When it comes to caring for our pets, we all want the best possible option, however, most veterinarians will have a single method that they prefer to perform, thus leaving you to find another vet if you do not agree with having a specific CCL surgery. Prior to committing your dog to a surgery, you’re going to want to find out what option your veterinarian will perform, the recovery time, what percent of normal activity level will the dog return to when fully recovered, etc. Of all the surgery options, I’d say that any would be better than going without the surgery (see my post on my friend who did not get the surgery for his dog), but in the end, the choice is going to be up to you – the dog owner. Without the surgery, your dog will have an unstable stifle (knee) joint, and will probably show lameness terminally.
Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Surgery Options
- Traditional Repair – Lateral Fabellar Technique
This technique is typically recommended for smaller dogs (we went with this option on our 60lb pit bull). With this technique, a monofilament nylon cord of about 80-100lb tensile strength is passed from the lateral fabella to the tibial crest, in what was explained to me as a figure 8 pattern, basically wrapping the knee joint to eliminate and prevent joint instability (drawer movement). Scar tissue will, over time, develop around the joint, which will further stabilize the joint, but will also begin to restrict range of motion.
- Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)
The TPLO CCL repair technique is generally recommended for larger breeds of dogs, as well as active dogs, such as agility dogs. This technique is also thought to cause less degenerative arthritis around the stifle joing. Key things to note about the TPLO surgery are a quicker recovery time, better range of motion, less arthritis and a return to athletic (working) activity levels. TPLO surgery involves cutting the bone and slightly rotating it before re-attaching it with a plate. By rotating the top of the bone, less pressure is put on the joint.
- Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)
This is a new, less invasive option to the TPLO surgery, but will not be an option for all dogs. Since this surgical option is less invasive, it allows for a quicker recovery time. TTA also puts a cut in the tibial bone, however it shaves off the front of the bone and extends it with a spacer. Also like the TPLO surgery, the TTA option depends on the angle of the stifle joint and is not recommended for dogs with a steep angle in the stifle.
- Tightrope Surgery (Tight Rope Surgery) (Updated June, 2009)
Tightrope surgery is a very new procedure that is based on a similar procedure performed in human ankles. It is far less invasive and is performed through small incisions in the skin, and woven through small holes drilled in the bones of the stifle joint. Tightrope surgery is an arthroscopic procedure and thus far seems to have very positive results.
As you can probably tell, each option has advantages and disadvantages, and all options should be discussed with your veterinarian after x-rays are taken of your dogs knee joint.