Tightrope Surgery in the Treatment of a Dogs Torn Cranial Cruciate Ligament

In reading this blog, you’ve probably come familiar with the 3 main types of surgeries used to treat a torn or ruptured cranial cruciate ligament in a dogs stifle joint. The problem with these 3 main types of surgeries is that they are fairly invasive, large incisions, bone cutting, etc. This may soon be a thing of the past with some of the advancements in medicine as vets and doctors are now using techniques from human surgeries. This new surgical method, called Tightrope CCL Surgery is far less invasive in that it is performed through small incisions and small holes drilled in the bone. A recent University of Missouri press release details this new procedure.

Technique Used in Human Ankle Injuries Modified to Treat Dogs’ Knees

MU veterinary clinician-scientist develops a minimally invasive method to treat torn ligaments

June 16, 2008

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A common sports injury in human knees is even more common in dogs. Each year, more than one million dogs suffer from cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) deficiency, which is comparable to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in humans. The common method of treatment by many veterinary surgeons involves cutting the tibia bone to stabilize the CCL-deficient knee in these dogs. Now, a new minimally invasive technique with less severe complications than previous methods has been developed by a University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine researcher.

Unlike humans, CCL injuries in dogs typically do not occur because of a single trauma to the knee but are the result of a degenerative process that leads to early and progressive arthritis. For this reason, and the unique biomechanics of the canine knee, techniques used to repair the injury in humans do not work well for dogs.  The new technique, known as Tightrope CCL, is modified from a technique used in human ankles and allows placement of a device that stabilizes the CCL-deficient knee through bone tunnels drilled using very small incisions. MU veterinarian James Cook worked with Arthrex Inc. from Naples, Fla., to develop and test the Tightrope device for dogs.

“Other current techniques require major surgery that involve cutting the bone, which can potentially lead to severe complications, such as fracture, implant failure and damage to the joint,” said Cook, professor of veterinary medicine and surgery and the William C. Allen Endowed  Professor for Orthopedic Research. “This new technique is minimally invasive, relatively easy to perform and cost effective compared to other techniques. The dogs in the preliminary trial study experienced fewer and less severe complications with outcomes that were equal to or better than those seen with the bone-cutting technique.”

Cruciate ligament tears are five times more common in dogs than humans and cost U.S. pet-owners more than $1.3 billion each year. The new technique is not for every dog. Because surgeons must be able to drill tunnels in the bone, dogs must weigh at least 40 pounds for the Tightrope CCL method to be feasible.  In addition, dogs that cannot follow a physical rehabilitation protocol after surgery and dogs with limb deformities are not candidates for this technique. The 10- to 12-week rehabilitation period is very important for any surgical technique for CCL deficiency in order to optimize successful return to pain-free function and reduce complications, Cook said.

“The times the Tightrope CCL technique has failed are when owners did not give their dogs the full rehabilitation period and let their dogs run, play or traumatize the joint before the knees were ready,” Cook said. “A successful operation is dependent on postoperative care so that the dog can heal well and build muscle for long term function. The Tightrope CCL technique is designed to allow this to happen with less surgery and less risk of a major problem arising, and so far, it has been successful.”

The original article can be viewed here.

Rope Above SnowIf any of you readers have had any experience with tightrope surgery, we’d love to hear about it in the comments. It’s still a relatively new procedure, so there really isn’t too much information available on it yet, and there seem to be even fewer stories from our readers (unfortunately). As I learn and hear more from our users, I’ll add new posts and updates about the applications of tightrope surgery, the costs of tightrope surgery and the recovery and rehab procedure involved with tightrope surgeries.


  1. Jesse says

    Hello. My 6 year old malamute is scheduled for Tightrope surgery this coming Wednesday. I am curious about any tips and advice for the recovery period, I assume it won’t be that easy. Any help would be appreciated.



  2. says

    Hi Jesse –

    Unfortunately, I haven’t heard of too many people who have had the tightrope surgery performed on their dogs being that it is still a relatively new procedure compared to the others available.

    I’d love to hear updates from you as I’m sure many of our readers would as well.

    Best of luck, and I hope that you’ll keep us posted.


  3. Jesse says

    Hi Kenneth,

    Thanks for responding. I would assume that the tightrope recovery is similar to that of the Lateral Fabellar Technique and TPLO, albeit not as long as of a recovery period for the TPLO. It is my understanding that the TTA is more or less an improved upon LFT procedure.

    I am trying to figure out what my best options are for keeping the dog off its feet during the recovery period. How to handle when the dog needs to “go outside”, how much time should the dog literally be of it’s feet, should I use a crate, etc…

    Thanks again.

    • susanne says

      i am in a quandry about the same—recovery, rehab. my dog is not able to walk(9 days after surgery)–even going out to the bathroom is difficult. so if the ‘walk’ is truly limited, what happens to the muscle. which is more important? have her walk, so she doesn’t totally loose all muscle? although we are at a point where my dog can hardly get up from sitting. she had her other leg done 4 yrs. ago. this is her second cruciate surgery.she is 13. i need help with recovery and rehab. anyone can spell that out for me. thank you.

      • Katie says

        From what I understand, the first two weeks should be quiet, low mobility. You want to avoid jumping, running and pretty much being a dog. My vet said that potty time should be quick (but you can’t rush a dog-especially mine). We would go out for no more than 5 minutes and if she didn’t poop (usually peed right away), then I would bring her in and watch her. Just like human pain medications and such, their digestive system is all kiddy wampus. It took two weeks to get Dakota pooping once/day. She now is back to her normal routine, but she is also off all the medications (except the Rimadyl). Every dog is different, so try to be patient and let them heal. The best thing we can do is limit their activity.

        For Dakota, we confined her to a single room with her cage, bed and water bowl. I would spend a few hours a day with her (reading or laying by her). For me the first 3 days were the worst (she was very uncomfortable/confused) she cried a lot. I used a sling for supporting her back side for the first two weeks, to help “walk” her outside to go potty. Even when she started using the leg I would sling her to give some support. She is now 25 days past her procedure and doing well (though she does still limp after laying for extended amounts of time). She definitely has atrophy of the muscle, but have been allowed to start one block walks. Eventually the distance will increase, and I think that after her two month check up we will be able to start to do hills, stairs and more muscle building work.

        I hope your dog begins to recover better and that things get easier for you.

  4. Kim says


    How much are they charging you for the Tightrope surgery? We cannot afford the TPLO surgery for our lab mix and I’m looking at this as an alternative option.


  5. Jesse says


    They quoted it between $2,800-$3,500. I’m picking him up tomorrow (the surgery went well) and I’ll let you know what the final cost is. Keep in mind though I went with a board certified surgeon so I know it is a bit more. This seemed to make the most sense, especially with a relatively new procedure like the tightrope.


  6. Jesse says

    I wanted to let everyone know our tightrope surgery has so far been a sucess. Out the door, including meds it has cost about $3,300.

    The recovery has proven to be difficult, mostly to keep him from running and jumping around. The first few days after the surgery he didn’t use the leg at all but now, 7 days later, it seems to feel better and is being used with full weight to walk around. My goal is to keep this to a minimum which hasn’t proven to be easy.

    I’ll follow up again in a few weeks but so far so good.


  7. Kim says

    Glad to hear it’s going so well! We have ours scheduled for next Wednesday. I will be glad to get it over and get her on the mend!

  8. Mike says

    My very active 100 lb Newfoundland Golden Retriever mix had tightrope surgery in Jan 2009. She experienced several complications. The rope slipped and she had to have a second surgery. After that setback, her kneecap went out of place and she had to have a third surgery. During the 3d surgery, she had a bonespur and bone fragment removed. Shortly after the 3d surgery, she tore the other acl. It is 12/2009 and she holds up the leg that had the surgery. She will use the leg with the torn acl to limp around. My surgeon moved to Florida. I plan to take her to my vet this weekend for an xray and an exam.

  9. Kimberle says

    My 64 lb. 7 yr old boxer had tightrope surgery Thanksgiving week 2009. She just had her 8 week checkup and the surgeon gave her a clean bill of health. We did keep her lying down except for potty breaks for 8 weeks. It was a chore, but we knew we had to do it. The surgeon said we can now gradually introduce her to her normal routine. She is thrilled that she can move about, but overexcited about being “normal” again, so we are keeping some restrictions on her for another 2 – 4 weeks. The surgeon said there should be no after effects. We are thrilled with the results!

    • Cindy says

      I too have a 65lb male boxer(Rusty) and we are quite nervous about the idea of a acl surgery- as he is avery ACTIVE happy go- lucky boxer..the surgery sounds -gulp- like something we’re gonna have find means to pay. Funny thing is, my husband also has same injury boy it looks bad to do the dog first!! I’m sure St. francis would appreciate this.

  10. Teresa says

    Hello guys. Bonnie my golden retriever mix (70 lbs) is set for tightrope surgery next wed feb 24th. We went trough two different surgeons for opinions and they all recommended the external capsular surgery which is the traditional way to go. I however wanted to do research on options. I came accross tightrope and found a certified vet in Illinois that has had success. We decided to do tightrope as it is less invasive and according to all the research I’ve done it has less complications than the other methods. Bonnie is a very active dog and she completely ruptured her ligaments and she is only walking on 3 legs. Our other dog is feeling the stress as we limit Bonnie’s mobility. Overall I also read that recovery time with tightrope surgery is not as long as with other methods. I hope it works out as it breaks my heart seeing her hopping around unable to play. I will keep you all posted.

    • Rosana says

      Hi Teresa, can you tell me the name of your vet in IL, my 90 lbs yellow lab needs surgery and we are evaluating our options. We live in Il , we want the best for the four legged child and seems thsi might be a good option.

      • Nick says

        My Dog is going in for tight rope surgery this coming tuesday. The vet office is located in st charles il and called valley medical center.

      • Gina says

        Nick, how did it go? I’m actually going in for the same thing, same place next week.

      • Steve says

        Here’s a quick update on my Boxer, Molly, who had tightrope surgery 6 weeks ago…

        Molly came home in very good spirits, wearing a huge e-collar that the vet put on her. Molly is just a little over a year and a half, and is a pretty active dog. During the 2 weeks that she had her sutures in (staples) she never bothered her incision, and we never used the e-collar.

        We iced the leg using a bag of frozen peas for several days, to help with the swelling, but it was minimal, to say the least. We ate the peas after the first week. They were delicious.

        Although the vet provided a liberal supply of pain meds and anti inflammatory medications, pain has not been much of an issue. The pain meds seemed to conk her out a bit, so we used them during the first few weeks to keep her calm, when we needed to keep her crated.

        We are still crating her at night, to keep her from coming up the stairs to our bedroom. Other than that, Molly has had free access to the downstairs portion of the house since she came back from the vet, with the exception of staying confined to one room for the first few days.

        Molly has been using her leg almost since the second day she came home. Our vet said that we should let the dog determine how she wanted to use the leg. She was putting full weight on it since early in the second week.

        We have walked her on a leash in the backyard for her bio-breaks, and lately have begun letting her out without the leash, with me or my wife walking along with her, as long as there are no other distractions, like neiboring dogs or squirrels.

        She will go back to the vet for evaluation next week, which will be 7 weeks after the surgery. We expect to begin taking progressive walks with her in the coming weeks.

        I hope that more of your dogs will have the kind of recovery period that Molly has been having.

    • Lori says

      Can you give me an update on how Bonnie did after the tightrope surgery. I have a king charles spaniel that has partially torn his ACL and I want to see how your dog responded after this technique.

  11. says

    Hi Teresa –

    Thank you for the update on your dog Bonnie. Please keep us posted on the surgery and the recovery. I get many questions on the best type of surgery, and I don’t personally know anyone who has gone through the tightrope procedure yet, though it sounds like a great option (and one that will be used more and more).

    If you think of us, please let us know about Bonnie’s progress after surgery.

    Thank you, and best of luck!

  12. Jan Kennon says

    My 5 and 1/2 year old Doberman has had this tight rope surgery just 5 weeks ago after a complete rupture of his cruciate jumping off the sofa chasing his friend the cat. The worst part was getting him out of the car the night of surgery but within 2 days he’d mastered the art of walking in three legs and was even trying to put his leg to the floor. The only mistake was his pain relief. I’d followed the surgeon’s instruction but he actually needed more pain relief by the third day when his swelling was at the maximum. He was taking Tramadol and Myloxidin which has now been decreased although he is still taking them. From then on he’s been making a steady recovery. He can now stand on that leg to pee and he is on 15 minute walks 3 times a day. This has increased from 5 minutes, 3 times a day in the first week. He also has to be on a lead for toilet breaks in the garden. (although he did escape once but came back quickly and calmly for half a sausage.) Luckily he’s a very calm dog but I am sleeping downstairs with him for the next 4 months at least but that’s just us! I have to work on his weight as because of a recent diagnosis of Hypo thyroidism that has been hard to control. Thankfully he loves brocolli, brussell sprouts and apples chopped and put into Kongs for treats but he still has his sausage for his pills.
    The operation cost £4500 that also included X-rays for both Knees and Hips and a Von Willibrands test as he’s a Dobermann and we didn’t need any nasty surprises! I hope he continues to make good progress. He has regular update checks included in that price and might need hydo therapy but we’ll see. He’s not keen on water, unless its a warm shower. Hope this helps anyone having to go through this. Just do exactly what you vet advises and take it slowly as they’re so precious.

  13. says

    Hi Jan –

    Good luck with the recovery. Please keep us posted as to the recovery, and if you’d be interested, I’d love for you to share your story on our site. We don’t yet have any full tightrope surgery and/or tightrope recovery stories.

    Best of luck, and let us know how it all turns out.

    Take care.

  14. Tam says

    I’m curious about the weight of your doberman Jan. I have a Akita mix who did something to her knee, I know something’s torn we just don’t know what yet and I’m waiting for an appointment with a orthopedic surgeon. She weighs close to 100 pounds and def needs to lose weight, this is probably what caused her tear even though she only needs to lose about 10 pounds. Anyways, I’m researching the different surgeries and since the traditional one isn’t an option for her size I’m curious if this one is an option for bigger dogs. I’m not a fan of putting foreign objects in her but the less invasive it is the better. How large is the incision? how long did the surgery take? I appreciate any help you guys can give me. :) I want the best for my little girl and want her on the road to recovery as quickly as possible :)

  15. Rich says

    I have 5 year old Boxer that has a torn cranial crutiate and this is the first I have heard of tight rope surgery. Does anyone know if it is available in New England

  16. Teresa says

    Hello Everyone,

    I am happy to report that Bonnie’s surgery went great. The incision was about 7 inches. She had surgery on Wed 2/24 and today she started putting weight on the leg. The toughest day was definitely the first one because she was completely out of it and was not able to even get up. My husband and I needed to hoist her up a towel. However, she has been recovering extremely well. The vet was even surprised that she is doing this well this qucikly. I am so happy overall with the surgery and glad we went with tightrope.

  17. Jan Kennon says

    Hi Tam,

    My Doberman weighed 123 pounds at the time of surgery. His surgery lasted 1 and half hours with x-rays etc. The scar is about 5 inches long at the front of his knee and has healed well. He only had large plaster dressing on for 3 days.

    We have had a very painful set back associated really with his weight. His weight has increase quite a bit over the last 2 years as he has a thyroid problem which we’re just getting his levels correct now. He had just been increased to 20 minute walks 3 times day. After 3 days he developed pain when getting up and down. I took him back to the surgeon but it wasn’t his knee surgery that was the problem but the hip above it. He has strained it exercising. He’s on 5 Tramadol twice a day and 40 mls of Myloxidin and a drastic weight reducing diet of 100grams of dried food with mixed raw veg (Brocolli, celery, carrots, cucumber and half and apple.) NO Treats!!! Its hard. He has 20 pounds to loose to get down to the correct weight for Dobermans here in the UK. I am so upset as he is still in pain but the surgeon says the weight reduction and pain management will work but it will take a couple of weeks to settle.

    You say your Akita is 100 pounds. Is that the correct weight for her? If not start the diet. I have to say apart from this set back the knee surgery seems fine. Hope that helps and good luck. xx

  18. Jan Kennon says

    Hi again Tam,
    If you can get this link it shows you the procedure. I am sure my surgeon mentioned putting in 2 tightropes to form a figure of eight under the joint. I’ll confirm that on the 15th March when we go back but it seems that might be something he does for bigger dogs to support their weight as well as another dog of equal size landing on them on play. His view was it’s less invasive than the traditional approach which sounded awful. To much bone cutting for me!

    Good luck
    Jan xx


  19. Jan says

    Hi Guys,

    I’ve just confirmed with my surgeon that he doubles up on the tightrope so there actually two running side by side. My doberman has lost 9lb in weight in two weeks so only 14lbs to go. His hip has been fine for the last week and the knee seems really ok. He’s walking normally but does still stand with his weight leaning more to the other side. His muscles are coming back and we’re back to 3 x 15 minute walks after the hip problem out him back a bit. The hardest thing now is keeping the diet on track.

  20. Kelley says

    Hi everyone,

    I have a Huskey mix who tore his knee. Local vet is talking about a surgery where they loop a suture and do drill the bone. Is this tight rope surgery far superior for price, seems haling is same- 12 weeks.
    I am not sure what to do and need to find a surgeon in southwest colorado or new mexico.

    any suggestions?


  21. Jan says

    Hi Kelley,
    I agree I think your vet is recommending tightrope surgery. If you can get it done don’t be to worried. I had a clear choice as my doberman had completey snapped his cruiate and I didn’t want him to become lame with arthritis. It seems you should not leave it to long as it does have an effect on the surrounding bone if the cruciate is broken. Your vet will show you on the Xrays whats going on. My dobermann is doing well. His score for walking is 1/10 for lameness after 8 weeks. He was 8/10 lame before surgery and luckily it was only a week from when he injured himself until surgery. Good luck I hope it goes well

  22. Andrea says

    Hi Everyone…
    Our 95# lab is having the TR procedure done in a week. I am concerned about the recovery period and how people have kept their dogs sedetary for 8 weeks. Our dog is very active, even with his current injury. Even with leash walking, which we have been doing for about 4 weeks now, he tries to run, etc.
    I’d love any suggestions on what has worked for you and your dogs!
    Thank you!! ;)

  23. says

    Hi Andrea –

    Please keep us posted on how the tightrope surgery goes. It’s still a newer procedure so I haven’t had the chance to speak to very many people who have had it done. From everything I’ve heard and read about it, there’s nothing but positives when compared to other surgical options.

    In regards to keeping your active dog inactive… that’s the tough part. We ended up keeping ours in a pen for most of the time, and only letting her out to use the bathroom. No walks! This was hard (very hard) but well worth it in the end, because now she’s as good as new!

    Best of luck, and again, please keep us posted!

  24. Andrea says

    Thanks Kenneth!
    Did you use a cage type pen? My husband and I are debating between a slightly bigger cage (42″), or a crate. I want the cage since he is a big dog, and he is a side sleeper (all legs stretched out). Since he’ll be in it so long, I want him to at least be as comfortable as possible…..my husband thinks it still gives him too much room…

    I will definitely update once we are thru it! :)

  25. Jan says

    Hi Andrea,

    My doberman is 10 weeks post surgery at the moment and although had a bit of a set back with a painful hip, due to his weight has recovered and lost 14lbs in three weeks. I didn’t use a crate but I think the Tramadol he was taking for pain kept him quiet.(Although he needed quite a dose). He was able to go for 5 minute walks 3 times a day by the 3rd day after surgery even though his ankle was its most sollen on that day. He still wondered around the house though and hopped on to his sofa after a few days. As I’ve camped downstairs since his surgery (As stairs are banned for a further 6 weeks. So he can lie out on his puffy quilt next to me and sleeps all night. He’s been really calm and now even waits to have his collar put on for toilet trips to the garden where as before he’d be off as soon as the door opened. I have to say he’s been more bouncey as he’s lost weight but I’m able to constantly monitor him as we’re together 24/7. Although he walks now for 25 minutes 3 times a day he does kick his leg outin an involuntary movement whilst laying down but that is getting less. the trembling he had for the first few weeks has also gone. He still stands leaning more on his good leg but the vet assures me that will also past in the next few weeks. Just a note. I bought him some interactive games where you hide treats and they have to find them. It did help when he looked bored. Good luck.

  26. Helen says

    Hi Andrea
    Our 70 pound mastiff mix had TPLO surgery four months ago and we purchased the metal crate. We were really worried about keeping her in it because she is so excitable but she adapted to it very quickly. A couple of days before surgery we put her favourite bed in it and she would just get in. We didn’t close the door at that stage but after the surgery we did. Once she wanted it, I would fill her kong with treats and give it to her or cover her bedding with a towel and give her a meaty bone to keep her busy. The crate was always close to us so that she could see and hear us and she was quite happy. After a week or so I would tie her to a heavy piece of furniture and place her bed there but only while we were sitting around watching TV or the like.
    We are half expecting a second knee to blow so we’re also investigating the Tightrope procedure but I’m in Australia and not sure if its done here.I’m anxious to hear how yours goes. Good luck!

  27. Michaela says

    Hi Helen
    My Aussie Shepherd has completely ruptured hers and is at Veterinary Specialist Services on the Gold Coast, Australia. The vet is giving me the options this afternoon for surgery, so I hope they are up to date and can offer the tightrope surgery. Will let you know.

  28. says

    Hi Michaela –

    Please keep us posted as to what happens with your dog and the surgery options. I’m curious to find out if the same options are available “down under”.

    Thanks and best of luck to you and your dog.

  29. Andrea says

    We have successfully come thru the surgery! Now we are dealing with the ‘after math’! ;)
    He did very well, and stayed at the vet for a few days for them to watch over him. He was released to us 3 days ago. Our biggest issue is not going to the bathroom. He’s only peed 2x since being home, and nothing else. We are going back to the vet this afternoon to have him checked….ugghhh – I’ll be glad to be out of the first few weeks of this!
    Otherwise, he is content in his cage, and not giving us any other troubles!! ;)
    PS – good luck Michaela!!

  30. Jan says

    Hi Andrea,
    Glad to hear your Mastiff’s doing well. The time will soon pass. My Dobermann was discharged today. His surgery was in January and has done well. He’s lost about 19lb in 7 weeks which has helped. He’s now 47kgs which is about 103lb and now has a waist. Its interesting that here in the UK the surgeons do not cage dogs after surgery unless they’re really active and thats only for a few days. He’s now up to 30 minutes walk 3 times a day but still can’t go upstairs for 4 more weeks. The surgeon recommends that frisbie and ball games not be played as the tendency for the other knee to rupture seems to be increased. Would be interested in what your Guys say? He still holds it up occassionally but has been off all meds for the last 4 weeks.
    Hope everything settles with your dogs tummy, its probebly the pain relief thats doing that. Take Care


  31. says

    Hi Andrea –

    Glad to hear you made it through the surgery! The first couple weeks are the toughest, but once you get a routine and your dog adjusts, it gets easier. I think we had the same urination issues, Roxy just wasn’t eating or drinking very much as she seemed depressed from being caged.

    Best of luck!

  32. Michaela says

    Hi Andrea
    Gald your baby is home and all went well.
    My vet didn’t recommend the tightrope surgery as there has been too many complications so far….so have to take his word and go with a mixture of the TPLO & Triple Tibial Osteotomy. She is booked in next Wednesday. $3.5k to $4k quote from VSS.OUCH! Has to be crated for 12weeks. Ahhhhh that is going to be fun with an over zeolous 4 yr old aussie!

  33. says

    Have you had any competitive Retriever Field Trial dogs do well on the TR procedure? There are many still competing with TPLO several years post op.I would rather the less invasive procedure….but I also want my dog to be able to handle the extreme training through extreme terrain.


  34. says

    Hi Jay –

    We haven’t yet had any stories about competitive dogs and the tightrope procedure. In fact, we haven’t had many stories at all about the tightrope procedure. If you’d care to share any of your experiences with TPLO surgery and dog competitions, we’d love to be able to share that info with our visitors.

    • Theresa says

      Not sure where you are in Illinois, however, I live in Southeastern Wisconsin and our almost 3 year old boxer had the tightrope done by Dr. Krier at the Badger Animal Hospital in Janesville, wisconsin, not far from Rockford on December 28th, all is great so far. We like Dr. Krier. He is good and traned with Dr. Cook from Missouri. Very nice facility and competent staff. Hope this helps and good luck.

  35. Michaela says

    Hi All
    Picked up my aussie last night after her TPLO (tightrope was not reccommended) and she was full of beans and feeling very comfortable after such a major surgery. Final bill $3,900 Australian. Have to take her back in 7 days for the bandages to be removed and then follow up xrays at 4 & 8 weeks.
    Vet (Dr Jason Mouatt) was very pleased with the surgery so we will see come x’ray time. Found thickening in the other knee so probable that she could blow that cruciate ligament if allowed to be an outgoing aussie. So will be keeping her under control for the rest of her life. No fisbee and no ball but lots of swimming! Shall update after follow up x’rays.

  36. nancy mowry says

    Hello. I have a 9 month mix breed who just had xrays on her left back knee. The xrays showed that she had an avulsion of the tibial tuberosity, a luxating patella, and a tibia that is curved slightly, due to a past injury which injured one of her growth plates on the tibia. ($$$$$$!)The orthopedic vet said to rest her for 3 weeks to see if the avulsion of the tibial tuberosity will heal on its own. Haley is a super active dog, so I didn’t know how to keep her quiet. She also pulls when on a leash and is a bit active in the car.I bought her an “Easy Rider” Car Harness. I found out, to my suprise that I could control her pulling. I leave it on in the house so that when she gets “crazy” I just grab the handle of the harness and immediatly calm her down. I’m not sure how this will work on other dogs but it’s worth a try. Haley is 40 lbs.

  37. says

    Hi Nancy –

    Thanks for the tip! You “grab the handle”??? Sounds like you’ve turned your dog into carry on luggage! ;-)

    Thanks again for your post!

  38. nancy mowry says

    The harness has a webbed handle that the seat belt slips through. When you walk your dog that “handle” gives you much more leverage. The “luggage” theory sounds just about right though.

  39. Helen says

    Hi everyone
    Our Mastiff X is 9 years old (but thinks hse is 2) so when TPLO surgery was suggested the first question I asked was whether or not her age would be a factor. The ortho told us that she was a ‘perfect candidate’ given she was so healthy and lean and that her age was irrelevant.
    5 months and 3 xrays later the bone is not healing well and she is well behind others at this stage. She is still tied up or confined most of the time with a 10 minute walk a day which seems to be her limit. Has anyone else had this problem and can anyone suggest any remedies to encourage healing? We are struggling with the fact that our energetic and spirited dog has not been able to just be a dog for so long.

  40. Jan says

    Oh Helen my heart goes out to you. I don’t know if this will help but I gave my doberman a lot of boiled chicken with the stock. As he also had to loose 20lb,it worked well with the raw veg that he had in large quantities, brocoli being his favorite. In England I was encouraged to walk him quite a bit more than it seems your surgeons recommend. I think little and often seemed to work well building up the muscle that wasted away. Maybe extra calcium would also help.

    Best of luck

  41. Niki says

    First, I want to thank you all for sharing your stories. Yesterday, I took my 5 yr old Airedale, Sophie, to the beach. I love her so. We struggle with weight issues and I knew we needed to take it easy. Still, on her first little jog on the hard packed sand I saw that something happened and she stopped, holding her hind right leg up. Sure enough, the vet has diagnosed her with a torn, if not a ruptured, knee ligament. As some of you have also experienced, her condition and surgery options are complicated due to her weight. After a month of a new regime, she actually gained 10 lbs per her weigh-in today. She is now 135lbs! You can imagine that I am broken hearted and confused about what the best thing for her is at this point. We are now checking her thyroid for starters and I will see the ortho surgeon on Thursday. After seeing the vet today and getting some of the worst news, I immediately came home and started searching the web for info. I found this information encouraging and comforting. Thank you.

  42. Michaela says

    Hi All
    It has been a nightmare keeping my aussie quiet…bandages off now and she is using the leg to walk on after one and half weeks post op. I have managed to knock 3kg off her by feeding her a cup of science diet r/d for breaky and a xtra large cup of cooked vegies/mince for dinner. She was 32kg before her operation and should only be about 19kg. So quite a way to go, but is managing about 1kg a week loss with no exercise and not upset with the amount she is getting. So far so good, but the follow up xrays will tell the story in 4weeks time.

  43. Helen says

    Thanks Jan
    I am so upset about it all. I seem to be crying all the time! We never thought we would be in this predicament 5 months down the track. She has always had fresh raw vegies and beef/roo/chicken mince so I think her diet is probably ok. We’ve now had another complication with the knee making a marked clicking/grinding sound. I’m told if she’s not lame then its probably ‘nothing’ but it’s really irking me. At the six month mark (in three weeks) the surgeon has decided to reassess her and might drill out some healthy bone from elsewhere and place it in the area where its not healing. My poor girl hasn’t seen a vet this many times in her lifetime. I’m told this is a fairly minor procedure. And so we wait.

  44. Jan says

    Hi Helen,

    My goodness you are having a bad time aren’t you. I have had a few moments like that when there have been set backs as its hard to see the dog you love so much struggling but try to stay positive she’ll pick up on that.

    I hope this will help. My Doberman also had very loud clicking which alway got worse on the way home from our mini walks. It did stop eventually and didn’t seem to be painful although he would keep looking at his knee in confusion. A friend of mine, who also had knee op had the same clicking and his surgeon and my veternary surgeon said it was inflamation. He had the same thing with his hip when that became inflammed due to his weight while over doing it slightly with the exercise schedule but again it went after a month although he was taking an anti-inflametry and really powerful painkillers for 3 and half months. Maybe take her back to the beginning of her rehab and slowly work up again . I’m due to pick up some vitamin suppliments tomorrow from my vet that promote healthy joints etc so I’ll let you know what they are when I get them. My dobes suffering with hay fever at the moment and has really dry eyelids. He was 7 on Sunday so now being middle aged I guess we’ll have a few bad days with aches and pains but at least he doesn’t moan as much as me.

    Take Care Helen and try to get enough rest yourself and then you’ll feel stronger to deal with it all.


  45. Jan says

    Hi Helen,

    So sorry I forgot to let you know the Vitamnins the prescibed. They are, Glycoflex. I’ll have to see if there are any benefits but my vet thinks they’re helpful. Hope things have improved.

    Take Care Jan

  46. Helen says

    Thanks for that Jan.
    We went back to the ortho last week and while he says he is not entirely convinced of it, he thinks she may have a tear in what is left of the meniscus (he didn’t remove it all during the TPLO – just tidied it up). Apparently 1% of dogs tear it again. He was however pleased with the improvement in the healing of the bone in the last three weeks, so has said to allow her all of her normal activities and that if she has in fact torn it again we will notice an increase in the lameness. If this happens we’re back in for an arthroscopy at another $2K. Ans so we watch and wait…..

  47. Jan says

    Hi Helen,
    Goodness I’d be furious. Your poor girl. Surely the vet should have checked and double checked.
    Maybe Hydro therapy would be helpful so that she’s doesn’t strain it when exercising. Weird that you’ve been told she can resume normal activities as I been told that we shouldn’t play frisbie etc again as the other knee is more at risk now. Its hard picking your way through all the sometimes conflicting info.
    Anyway best of luck. I hope she its not torn and this is just a short set back.

    Take Care


  48. Helen says

    Hi Jan

    Yes well I was told by many people in the industry that he is the top ortho surgeon in the country so I guess I have to take his word for it. I have to say though…his people skills are lacking – as with many human specialists.

    There will be no more frisbee!:-)I don’t care what anyone says about that….nor will there be chasing of possums and jumping up at the fence in the back yard at night!

  49. Jan says

    Hi Nikki,

    My Doberman also had weight problems especially after knee surgery and although his food was drastically cut down to 200grams a day from 460 with loads of veg, more importantly his thyroxin was left slightly higher (by 1/2 a tablet up to 3 and 1/2 a day)which helped get the weight off faster. This has to be monitored closely because its not good for their heart but its been hard to get a good level consistanly anyway. He lost 20lb in 6 weeks. We still have 4lbs to go and the 1/2 tablet hs been taken away now so the weight loss is very slow now but still going down. Good luck

  50. Gary says

    Greetings, I have an 8 year old 13 pound female Westie who suffered a torn knee CCL after being attacked by another larger dog of about 40 pounds.

    She is a very active dog and I feel absolutely horrible for her being in this condition now. I know she would’ve had many healthy years ahead of her and hopefully still will with proper surgery. I want the best option for a potential full recovery. I realize she may never be 100% but I want to give her the best chance.

    Can anyone please offer suggestions?

    Thank you and kind regards

  51. Katie Wieringa says

    My dog had the TTA procedure done on her right leg 1 year ago with great results. 2 months ago, she tore her CCl in her left knee. In hearing about the tightrope procedure we decided to go with that since it is supposed to be less painful, less invasive, with quicker recovery. She had her knee repaired right away by a vet in Warren Michigan who told me over and over I will love this surgery compared to her last and it will be so much better (she will go home toe touching, minimal pain, speedy recovery). She yelped in pain for 3 days on her prescribed pain meds, didn’t even toe touch for 3+ days and now 8 weeks out, she is still limping a lot and has “laxity” in the joint that my regular vet found on a routine visit. I took her back to the surgeon and he said it doesn’t feel right and that she had some laxity at 1 month but he hoped it would strengthen with time (which he never told us about) but now he needs to “go back in”. So she’s having surgery #2 done of this “minimally invasive surgery”. I was so careful and restricted her and he said there was nothing I could’ve done differently. Any surgery can have imperfect results, just have realistic expectations and know I would never choose the tightrope surgery again.

    • Christine says

      Hi Katie, can you email me at chrystielyn [at] gmail.com please? i am considering tightrope for my dog and I’d like to ask you about your experience in Warren without listing any vet names on this blog. Thank you!

      • says

        Hi Katie & Christine –

        If you two do end up talking/emailing, would you mind submitting your conversations to us to post for our users? It’d be great to have a list of common question and answers through the eyes of dog owners who have experienced it.


  52. Andrea says

    Hi All –
    I have not been on for awhile, but wanted to update.
    Also – Katie – I’m sorry for your results with the tightrope, that is very unfortunate, but hope your result will not keep others from trying this procedure.
    Our 95# lab had the tightrope done 10 weeks ago, and we have been very pleased with all results. Our vet had us cage him for the first 5 weeks – only out 3x a day for bathroom relief. At 5 weeks, the vet said G could be out of the cage, but only in our presence and make his bathroom walks a little longer. At 7 weeks, the vet said he no longer needed to see him every 2 weeks, and for us to call the physical therapist (we received 1 free visit with a PT with the surgery). Vet also said at 7 weeks G could return to somewhat ‘normal’ activities, but under our watch at all times.
    We went to the PT this week, and he was pleased with G’s range of motion, etc at this time. Said his knee is still very tight. He gave us some more excercises to work on to work up the muscle loss – more uphill walks, and doing an obsticle course with him in the yard of stepping over things, etc. Also, advised longer walks and swimming, also wanted us to try an underwater treadmill for a few weeks – again to help build up the muscle loss from surgery and recoup.

    We really could not be happier with our results from the tightrope procedure! G too….he seems to be feeling much better with a ‘good’ leg under him.
    He was originally diagnosed with severe hip displaysia and because of that, both knees are bad – the one we went with on the surgery ended up having a 60% tear. So, at this point, we are going to see how he does with the ‘good’ knee before deciding on further surgery. PT also mentioned the underwater treadmill would be good for all this…

    SO – as an opposite posting to Katie – I would highly recommend the surgery!! I would, however, highly stress doing your research on the surgeon and their success rates – talk to other patients of theirs that have had it done. It is critical to have someone that has alot of experience and is on the list Dr Jimi Cook keeps. You can email him at UofMissiouri – CookJL@missouri.edu.

    Thanks for the support all! ;)

  53. Amelia says

    My dog, Lady, an 8-year-old, 65 lb Chow Chow mix, had the TTA surgery on May 13, 2010, almost 7 weeks ago. Our regular vet does not do these surgeries, but recommended we see a board-certified veterinary orthopedic surgeon. The surgery itself cost $2100, and the pre-op x-rays, blood and urine tests came to about $650. (This was in the Boston, Massachusetts area.)

    Lady tore her ligament most likely in a gradual manner. One day in February, I was out with her for a short and slowish jog. We’d gone about 3/4 of a mile and she stopped wanting to go any further and began limping. Our vet thinks the ligament tore gradually until that day when it completely gave way.

    I did not take her immediately to the vet, because she’s had limping occasionally in the past which has gone away after a day or two. This time it did not go away after a week, though she did begin to bear some weight on the leg again.

    Our vet diagnosed the torn CCL by doing the “drawer” movement under anesthesia. He also took x-rays. At this time, I learned that her hips are also pretty arthritic.

    The surgery was booked about 6 weeks later. During this time, Lady began to bear more and more weight on the injured leg, and was back to doing walks of a mile or more. I was almost not going to do the surgery, but the fear of her tearing the other knee ligament was what made me do it after all.

    After the surgery, she wimpered for about 3 days straight, but after that, was back to her old self began to put weight on the leg. I also noticed that the leg was aligned better. While it was injured, she was turning it in. Our surgeon is not of the “crate her for a month” philosophy. Although he forbid any stair walking at all, he did recommend several short daily walks pretty early on in the recovery (after a week). The surgeon did a very good job with the incision — the stitches are all hidden, and thus not a temptation to gnaw on. She does look all patchy from all the shaving, not just of the leg but additional spots for 1) IV, 2) pain med patch 3) epidural.

    Lady made a fast early recovery, but now has plateaued a bit. She had a setback, I think because I took her for a fast walk too soon, and after that, I have been keeping her restricted again. I was worried maybe she destroyed the TTA, but after rest and restriction seems better again. My advice would be that if your dog seems to be doing great early on, take it easy anyway or you will prolong the recovery period.

  54. Ash says

    Hello All,

    My 90 lb American Bulldog/Pitt mix had the Tightrope Proceedure 3 days ago. He is 8 years old, and besides the knee injury, is in excellent health. We think he injured the knee exiting the pool several months before. We noticed a limp right after he jumped out (in-ground pool). It seemed to get better and I resumed our 2 mile/day walks. A couple months after, we could tell it was no longer healing. To the vet we went and started this journey.

    One thing I would like to note, is that when it comes to recovery and outcome, it may be important to ask your vet and include in your experience how much if any at all of the meniscus of the knee is removed during surgery. Some dogs have to have this scraped out and some have had it intact. My vet stated it depends on the severity of the injury, current arthritic level, and damage already acquired to the meniscus. This can affect the dogs recovery experience. As well as if there was a partial tear or full tear, did the surgeon remove all of the CCL???

    In our case, the meniscus was left intact, and the CCL was scraped and removed (was a full tear).

    Our dog is doing great thus far. We picked him up the morning after surgery (central california).He came out of the kennel bearing weight and using the repaired leg. Although this should be restricted, it was a good sign. My biggest initial fear was regarding how we would manage to pick him up and get him home safely. My husband was out of town, and I am 8 months pregnant. Luckily the techs lifted him in the car and we were able to assist with a sling/sheet to get him out at home.

    He is an indoor dog and quite large so we have never crated. What we did do is buy a baby/toddler “superyard” and set it up in the living room for the recovery. He is happiest when he can see me and be with me at all times. I currently am not working so this has worked in my favor due to the surgery.I was worried that he would need assistance to get up from a laying down position and being pregnant, this type of lifting would be a no-no for me. He was able and willing to get up, leash walk outside to pee, and back inside with no assistance from a sling. He is cautious with the leg but is bearing some weight on it.

    He is eating fine, but I have spoiled him by feeding 1/2 his regular dry food and 1/2 rice, chicken, garlic, and veggies. The garlic will stay on the menu through recovery (8-12 weeks) due to the miracle food it is. He is taking 50 ML Tramadol twice a day, Dermaxx in the morning, Cephlexine 500 ML 2 times a day for 10 days, and 1500 ML Glucosamine (the dr recommended the brand Shift due to a study that reviled it actually had the amount in it that was stated and was absorbed quickly. this is a human brand, not veterinary brand). I have him outside to pee about 5 times a day and get about 3 good pees from him. He has yet to go #2. If he doesn’t go by tomorrow, I’m calling the vet for supplement advice. What do you give a dog?? Prune juice??? Colace???

    Again, so far I can’t evaluate more than my dogs endurance (he is doing soooo well. no whining, no visible discomfort passed what the pain meds can handle, eating and drinking normally…I should mention I give him home made broth -no salt- and water mixture a couple times a day just to keep the hydration up). As far as the surgery and the surgeon, 3 days is too soon to evaluate. One thing I do know is that my surgeon was able to use internal stiches and NO STAPLES. It meant no bandage and no e-collar. He is not much of a licker and hasn’t licked the wound much. It wept for the first day and he did lick so out of precaution, we are all on anti-lick supervision duty. I understand infection is a huge risk in these surgeries. I wash the incision area twice a day with betadine. If you do this, you can’t bandage the leg until all the betadine is dry. We are bandage-free so it didn’t matter to us. Another hint is to never BLOW on the incision area if you think the betadine burns. Blowing introduces bacteria from your mouth. Use a magazine and fan away.

    We have mild swelling around the ankle and knee, but not too much redness. I have done a few ROM exercises with him and he does not seem to mind. His knee thus far shows great flexibility and no limited movement. I have iced the ankle and knee a couple times. He does hate that, so I will not push it.

    He has a check up in 2 weeks. At that time we will evaluate if we can start short leash walks and if we can get him in the pool to start laps. I will check back in often and update. I plan to be extra vigilant regarding the other knee and will be looking for signs of weakness from over use. The last thing we want it to have the other knee go. I do know there is a 50% chance of that but so far the vet said the other knee seems very stable.

    Best to all who are enduring the TightRope surgery. All other options seemed way to invasive to me. (And to my dog LOL). Please keep posting updates on your dogs recoveries as well. Hopefully this info can be helpful to others and to vets.

    Mrs. B

  55. marlene says

    I’m looking for a vet either in the Chicago suburban area or in/near Marquette, Michigan who performs the tightrope surgery. I have a 90 lb. black lab in need of returning to his normal active lifestyle.

  56. Andrea says

    Hi all…
    We’re back again! G tore his other knee last week, so 5 months (almost textbook!) after his first tightrope procedure, we will be doing the other leg. As mentioned before, G has very severe hip dyplasia, so we knew both knees were suffering, and he had a greater chance of the other going. I noticed he was favoring it earlier in the week, then it went altogether when he did a quick run in the yard.
    One good thing – G lost almost 17#’s since his first procedure! The vet was very pleased with this, and said it will work to his advantage w/the 2nd procedure.
    The vet is working up when we will procede, and wanted to do it within the month. We are certainly hoping we have the same results, and soon G will have 2 good knees under him!! :)
    Will check in with the progress!
    ~ A

  57. Donna says

    Hi All,

    This has been very informative. Thank you all for your indepth posts.

    My 7 yo Golden girl has a partial CL tear. She is in amazing health otherwise.

    I’ve gone through TPLO on my now, 13.5 yo, Golden. The surgery is still holding strong after all these years. (She had the surgery when she was 6).

    Although I’ve had great success with TPLO I am looking for a less invasive surgery or possibly stem cell.

    Has anyone had experience with stem cell repair?

    Tips on down time with puppy. I kept them down on a mattress in the living room and we played lots of interactive games like tug o war, (laying down of course), find the treat (in the blanket) Ghost doggie, I threw a blanket over their head and proceeded to grabbed paws or pulled their nose. It gives them a outlet of their energy without them getting up. :) I even started feeding the squirrels in the front yard to give her something to bark at.

    It’s a very long haul, DO NOT RUSH IT!! Even if the dog seems fine, don’t push it. Study the x-rays and introduce on-leash walks for months. I’d rather Fido be nuts an extra month from boredom, then re-injure themselves. So when you think two weeks, make it a month.

  58. Andrea says

    Hi all –

    Well, G did great on his 2nd Tightrope surgery. This time around, the vet released him from the towel walking at 2 weeks. We are leash walking, and anticipate that for quite awhile. He only needs to be caged when we are not home (so there are no accidents from running, etc and being unsupervised).
    Overall, we are pleased again – he is already walking on the leg – not putting alot of weight on it, but is beyond toe touching and we are 3 weeks out today. We have PT scheduled for next week….might break down and do some of the under water therapy since our pool will be too cold for doing it at home!

    Donna – stem cell was one of our options, but G needed something done quickly on the first go round, and my husband was not convinced of the stem cell repairs. G still has the issue of the hip displaysia which caused the bad knees, so it is a consideration for his hips, and some additional strength to his knees. I’d like to try it before doing a hip replacement/surgery! Our vet is a believer in the stem cell repairs!

    And – I second Donna’s advice about not rushing anything! The key to the success seems to be keeping them quiet for the first, almost 8 weeks – leash walks at all times and not letting them play too hard in the house – no jumping on the couch or bed (hard as it is with those pitiful eyes!). They should not be returning to full activity until the end of 15 weeks, and it takes up to 6 months for full healing to take place. That 6 months is worth the next however many years of a happy puppy! ;)

  59. Ginger says

    Oh, I am in tears. A rampant, noisy squirrel in the backyard caused my 2 year old Chow, Bravo, to come back in limping on his back left leg. I took him to my vet who said he probably tore it and to keep him down a few weeks and see if it begins to heal. I thought I was doing a good job at that, but one day I opened the back door and Bravo took off across the yard at (what I believe to be) that same pesky squirrel. Now he’s holding that leg up completely, and my vet is concerned he may have totally torn his ligament.

    I take him to the surgeon tomorrow afternoon, but I’m pretty sure that surgeons are proponents of surgery. After reading these posts, I’m not sure if I have the strength to see him suffer through a surgery, and yet there doesn’t seem to be any viable alternatives. The thought of his other knee ripping is heartbreaking.

    I’m thankful for everyone posting here….I’ve developed a better picture here than surfing through countless sites, and I’m more informed on what to ask the surgeon tomorrow.

  60. Helen says

    Hi Ginger
    I feel for you and I know exactly what you’re going through. Having been through it all just short of a year ago I’m not sure I would subject my babe to it again, but she is almost 10 years old. Both my partner and I agreed that should she damage the other leg it won’t be a consideration but with a younger dog I would do it all again if necessary. It’s a hard slog but if it’s the only way what else do you do? Our lives were turned upside down for six months and to be honest I still have her wrapped in cotton wool to some extent. Her life as she knew it has changed BUT she is with us, she is happy and she is healthy. You find the strength – it comes form somewhere…you’ll have sleepless nights, you’ll shed many tears, but I believe dogs are so much stronger and adaptable than we are amazingly.
    Good luck with whatever you choose to do.

  61. Ginger says

    Thank you, Helen. Well, I took my Bravo for his appointment & ended up crying through most of that also. The surgeon said he tore his ACL &, of course, needed surgery. She does not perform the Tightrope & doesn’t believe in this new procedure yet. Apparently only two surgeons at this facility are trained to do TR “for a reason”, she advised. She said Bravo needs a TPLO, & when she showed me the model knee with the pins & plate, of course I cried even more. I consulted with my regular vet of 25 years & he agrees with her assessment. Bravo is scheduled for surgery this coming Monday morning, 10/25. My b os is sympathetic & understanding in allowing me to work from home all next week to care for him during the first critical days. Bravo never leaves my side……where do I set up his pen to care for him? In the living room where we usually are, or in a back room…? I don’t know yet what all to do, & in the meantime, he just wants me to let him off the leash so he can go play….. What an awful feeling I have right now.

  62. Helen says

    Hi Ginger
    I will tell you what I did. I set up Tess’ new crate in the living room before she had her surgery and I placed her bedding in it so she would get used to it – because she wasn’t crate trained. When I collected her from the vet after her surgery I placed her in it and I slept in the living room the first couple of nights as she was quite distressed and I could soothe her when necessary. After that she didn’t need me there. Prepare yourself for those first couple of nights – some people say that their dogs are ok but Tess was a little confused. I also had to hand feed her some cooked chicken the first night as she wasn’t interested in food but had to have it in order to take her pain killers. When he’s a little better get plenty of chew toys and use a filled kong to keep him busy where possible – I would even cover Tess’ bedding with a sheet and give her a marrow bone occasionally. Tess is also a chaser so she was never ever outside unleashed during her healing period. In the next couple of days just keep him quiet and with with you where possible. I know it all sounds a bit daunting but they do adjust and you will too. Helen

  63. Ginger says

    Hi…! My goodness, I’m so glad to say things seem to be going very well. Today is our third week out from Bravo’s TPLO surgery. When we picked him up from the hospital, he was already using that back leg which scared me very much. The first night home was every bit as stressful as I had feared, but as you said Helen, we got through it. He’s off all med’s now and the hardest part is keeping him in his cage so much. He already wants to run and play with his toys and it makes my heart rate increase each time he tries. Next Monday we meet with the rehab consultant.

    I tell you….It was good that I read all the comments here so that I could prepare myself for something, even though I didn’t know what all that was. Bravo’s bored right now, for sure, but thankfully he seems to be back on the road to being a health puppy. Thank you all!!

  64. glen says

    Hello. We have a German Wirehair Pointer that is going in for the TR surgery on the 15th of Dec. She weighs 62lbs, and is only 2.7 years old. I have been told the operation is the easy part….the outcome is up to the owner by the sounds of things. My wife and I have scheduled our vacation so someone can be home with her for the first 2-3 months. Our surgeon says only bathroom trips on a leash for the first month. Then it sounds like a slow progression of short walks a few time a day.
    I will update her progress, as I don’t see anything recent here. Glen

    • says

      Hi Glen –

      I would 100% agree with this. We were diligent about the recovery process – strictly limiting our dogs movement and activity (among other things) and she has recovered nicely. She’s now about 4 years post-op and has been doing great, getting around really well, though she has slowed a bit being 10 years old now.

      I look forward to hearing updates.

  65. glen says

    Hello Kenneth and others. We picked up Maggie today. I feel sick. You feel soooo sorry for them.The unfortunate part is that, while the cruciate was damaged, and she did have the TR put in; it is more a case of Arthritis for Maggie. She is not even 3 and she has advanced Arthritis. So bad it is something you would see in a old dog. The other knee, they figure is the same. The DR. has said the operation will help the stability, but is not going to fix the problem, because of the severe Arthritis.She is letting her toe touch the ground a “couple of times” She just lay down on her bad side with some yelping and then figured it wasn’t a good idea.Man I’m a worry wart. I’m a bit of a wreck to say the least, and we’ve only had her home for 3.5 hours…Glen

  66. glen says

    Maggie (and me) made it through our first night at home. I would have expected to hear some whimpering ect, but did not. She was up twice for bathroom breaks. Although she does not lay on her bad side all the time; I was surprised that she is doing this, and has figured out that she can get up with no whimpering. Spent some time massaging then icing this morning. She is all ready trying to use the leg more than yesterday; (something that probably shouldn’t be encouraged??)More massaging and some stretching, icing later.

  67. glen says

    I have found Maggie on her bad side this afternoon and watched her get up. It was painful to watch, as she put side stress on it and caused discomfort for her. I realize I can’t make her lie on one side or the other but this cant be good. I think the pain killer is working too good?And she is not recognizing the injury. She is on Metacam. As I said above, i’m a bit of a worrier, but any input may help. Thanks. Glen

  68. glen says

    Day 3 at home.Maggie is giving the odd yep and cry, so obviously there is some pain.the rehab sheet says to massage ect. She does not like us touching or massaging the paw. Has anyone else experienced this? I am not having much luck with the range of motion exercises. When this procedure first came out, they had you walking the dog 3min ,3times a day. Now just pee breaks. More stiffness because of this??This totally SUCKS!

  69. Jan Kennon says

    Hey Glen,
    Just read your latest comment.I really feel for you. Fiel my Doberman had the tightrope surgery in January this year and Kenneth who runs this site published his story. I remember his pain relief was NOT enough and although you don’t want your dog to be like zombie its not helpful for recovery to be in pain and all the massaging in the world is only going to help a tiny bit. I have had quite a few conversations with vetinary surgeons and human doctors about pain relief and it seems some professionals really are over zellous about the minimum amount. My own vet seemed to manage my Dog’s pain better than the surgeon and although I was scared at the amount of pills, it worked well. He was on 5 Tramadol twice a day as well as 45 mils of Myloxidil all tied in to his weight. He did the short walks as well as pee breaks on the lead for a few months. Ring your surgeon and ask if you can up the pills until you have a comfortable dog. The third day was my dogs most uncomfortable day as the ankle swells and must feel hot. Hang in there, it will get better. Hope all goes well for you both. Have a great Christmas.

    • glen says

      Hello Jan. It sounds like your dog was in much more pain then Maggie.Thank you for the reply and I will inquire about more meds if needed.
      Merry Christmas to you too:)

  70. glen says

    Day 5 0700. Maggie licked off her bandage last night to expose the incision;which was large to what I had expected.(5.5″)The area looks good.She is getting to feel more like herself. I just watched her use the bad leg to scratch her head like crazy(positive) I put the “cone of shame” on her last night, because I wasn’t sure if she would go at the op site. As she feels better, its going to be very difficult to keep her quiet. The day before the operation,I could have taken her on a 6km walk and she would have ran like the wind, ignoring the injury.So again this should be fun to keep her subdued.I am feeling more positive about things now that she seems to be able to move around with less discomfort.

  71. Helen says

    Hi Glen
    Sounds like all is going well. I had a little trouble keeping my mastiff quiet. I can highly recommend using marrow bones and kongs at this time – anything to occupy and distract them for a while works. They also seem to become more tired after being busy with something like that….good luck.

  72. Henry Gresham says

    Annie, our Great Dane, had tightrope surgery last June 2010. We opted for this over TPLO because we simply cannot “crate” her; she freaks out in a crate. OK State Univ vet hospital did the surgery. I’m happy to report that she’s done very well. We carefully followed the recovery & rehab instructions, and gradually had her do more and more. Now she seems about fully recovered, although the surgeon warned us that she has arthritis and cartlidge damage that was not completely “fixable”. We don’t let her run off lead out of our fence, but do give her free run on the property. She runs about like before her injury. I must say we are very pleased with the outcome. There was some concern that maybe she was too large for tightrope (95#s), but the vets agreed that it was about our best option. Glad we did it. Best wishes to those of you who are facing it for your 4-legged “kid”.

  73. glen says

    Day 7 at home.Wow what a difference a week makes!Maggie is bearing some wait on the leg, and is using it quite a bit when she walks.I can’t believe it. I realize she is not putting a lot of weight on it, but i’m watching her cruise around her pen, using the leg on every step. We have been very good at following the DR’s recovery process. Range of motion exercises, stretching, massaging, and icing. And of course, bathroom breaks only(on leash)Still a long road, but this is very promising.:)

  74. glen says

    Day 12.Maggie is using the leg a lot of the time when walking.There is obvious discomfort, but no noticeable pain. She would run if you gave her the chance.(not good)A couple of times when shes excited she’s up on her back legs. My sleepless nights and fretting seem like a long time ago. It’s hard to keep her settled, which is so important. We are giving her Cartrophene injections once a week(shes been on these for a while)

  75. Maureen says

    Does anyone know of a Vet in the Atlanta, Ga. area that performs the tightrope surgery? Our 42 lb. cocker spaniel fell during our recent snow/ice storm and tore her Cruciate Ligament. We are exploring all options.Thanks!

    • Andrea says

      Hi Maureen-
      We are in the Nashville area, and have a great mobile vet that does the surgery….but, get in touch with the ‘founder’ of the Tightrope procedure….Dr Jimi Cook – you can email him at UofMissouri – CookJL@missouri.edu. He keeps a list of all vets that are ‘certified’ to do the procedure and will send those in your area to you…
      Good luck!!

  76. Katie says

    I am so glad that this site exists. Our 2.3 year old, 85lb lab just had her consultation in regards to what to do with her torn CCL. We are 99% sure that we will be opting for the tightrope procedure. I just want to thank you all for your comments, because it is the recovery time that I worry about. The vet we would go with is highly concerned about pain management and controlling the swelling of the area. We have to wait to see the extent of her injury, since she didn’t fully tear it until just this past fall (theoretically) and was showing signs of issues for a year.

    • Katie says

      We are scheduled for a go on March 7th. I hate to wait that long, but that is the soonest that our doctor can get her in. I am confident in his abilities to do a good job. It is going to be a long road to recovery and take due diligance on our part, but she will be so much happier once it is done.

      • Katie says

        Dakota had her procedure and all seems to be well. We will pick her up today and then the fun really begins. The doctor said that she had a full rupture and that we will have to watch her right “good” leg because it seemed “loose” and so the extra weight/strain could rupture the other one. We will address/cross that road if that happens.

      • Tam says

        My dog ruptured both and has done AMAZING. She had the TPLO surgery. If it does happen, and they warn it most likely will, don’t stress. I totally freaked and it tured out to be much easier than I thought. The hardest part is leaving them there overnight and worrying through the surgery. She’s recently been cleared to continue her activities and she couldn’t be acting more like a puppy!! (she’s 8 years old). She feels so much better. I think her knees were bothering her for a long time before they finally ruptured so she was frequently uncomfortable and now she’s a new dog! If you have any questions or concerns or just need to vent please feel free. I’ve been through her 2 knee surgeries, well 3 really as they removed the plate from the first leg during the second surgery because the screws were backing out, and I think I’ve dealt with every emotion you could possibly have. But I assure you everything will turn out so much better for your pup. I can’t believe how much energy and how good she feels now :)

      • donna says

        Hi all,

        What a great site to chat about this issue!

        Has anyone tried the conservative approach to a slight tear? I’ve had the TPLO done on one of my other dogs and she did great (after a very lengthy healing process 6months to be exact)
        I’ve a 7 year old Golden girl that has a slight tear, in October, and have been treating conservatively. She’s doing well but still has some swelling and a limp if she plays too hard.
        Thanks for any feedback

  77. Steve says

    Our 1 1/2 year old Boxer has just been diagnosed with a ruptured cruciate ligament and is scheduled for the tightrope procedure next week. Our vet is quite sharp and has been performing these procedures for some time now, so we have good expectations for a good outcome.

  78. Robert says

    My 8 year old cocker spaniel Archibald had his second knee surgery in mid January of this year. His first surgery was one year ago almost to the day on his other knee. His recovery has been amazing and my vet at the Mission Pet Hospital here in San Francisco is very skilled in this procedure and he’s extremely compassionate. He even called me after his second surgery to check in on his progress. I have restricted his walks post surgery–no running in the park for now and he’s already jumping and climbing stairs without discomfort.

  79. Katie says

    Donna – We were conservative with Dakota. Her initial injury was fall of 2009. We were told that it was a tear, so we tried the conservative approach. All was going well until she was playing with some other dogs winter of 2010 and when she jumped off the couch after resting, we suspect that is when she fully tore the ligament. She never really regained control/comfort so we opted to have the surgery. She is her 2nd day out and seems to be doing well. Have you asked your doctor about Rymadyl and Dasaquin (or another) joint supplement? These two things work together to inhibit inflammation and works to delay arthritis, according to my vet. Good luck and just keep a close eye on the “bad” leg.

    • donna says

      Thank you for the reply!! Josie is doing pretty well. She plays normally but does limp after an extended period of rest. She gets over the limp in a few steps. she is 7yo and had the tear in October of 2010. It’s good to know that surgery is an option at a later date.
      Currently she is only taking tramadol(sp) and is on a high dose of Glucosimine(sp). I’m a little nervous about rymadyl but will look into dasaquin. I was thinking about laser treatment and accupunture for the remaining inflammation. I do PT with her every day which she loves and have had her in swim therapy all winter. The swim has helped tremendously. Once the lake warms up a little she can swim every day here.

      What procedure did you do with Dakota?

      Thanks again!

      • Katie says

        Dakota had the tight rope procedure done this past Monday. She is doing really well. She hates her cone, but other than that is doing great.

        She has been on Dasaquin for over a year and it helped her tremendously. Here is the link: http://www.nutramaxlabs.com/vet/products/Dasuquin-for-dogs.aspx. I question rymadyl also and plan to take her off of it ASAP. For now we will keep her on it and monitor her digestive system.

        I have looked into water therapy for Dakota, once the incision heals. How did Joise do for the first time? I think it will be good for her to burn off some energy that way and that it might be therapeutic for me as well. :-)

        Also, yahoo groups has two groups that you may want to look into. Orthodogs and conservative management groups. It is full of people sharing and asking questions who have also been their. I think that some professionals are part of the group too. You will need a yahoo account, but I just set up a general one without a lot of my personal information (bare minimum).

        Good luck with the conservative approach! Katie

      • donna says


        Thanks for the reply. Josie LOVES her swim therapy but then she’s a natural water dog. She is so comfortable after a good work out in the pool. Believe me, it is a work out as long as you get a good therapist. My first therapist was too easy on her, but when I asked her to push Jo, she knocked her out. :) Josie is very athletic and can easily swim for 30 minutes with only a brief break. It should help Dakota a lot with the down time.

        I looked into the tightrope procedure and have a recommended doctor close to me but was nervous about the new treatment. Josie’s leg is stable and has some very minor popping from the meniscus. Her good leg is very tight. She has been losing weight but still needs to get off a few more pounds. She is back to hiking 6-7 miles a day, but will get stiff after she rests. She has a 5 month old pup to play with and keeps up with him very well.
        I think I’ll take her back to ortho as I am currently off of work and looking to return to work in about 6 weeks. I feel its a good time to do the surgery, if it will still help. I’m not sure how much it will help since the leg seems to have stablized itself. They can find no play (drawer movement) in it at all now. Was that the case with Dakota?

        Good luck and I hope Dakota loves her swim time.

      • Katie says

        Dakota had quite a bit of play with her 2nd diagnosis (one year b/t the two), that is why we did the procedure. My husband hunts her for fun – no field trials or hard, long days out. If the case was different we would have gone with a more invasive/restructuring of the joint approach. My vet feels confident that with a good long recovery (2-3 months limited activity; 3-6 months rehab type activity; 6 – 12 months controlled activity) that you would never know that she had an issue. He also feels this approach will help her “good” knee, since the chances increase of that CCL tearing. It is going to be a long road to recovery, but we felt is was the best thing for her and her quality of life.

        I am pretty sure that I am going to speak with the one facility in the immediate area that does hydro therapy. It is a little pricey ($40/visit), but if it prevents her from doing something stupid because of boredom, then it is well worth it.

        I wouldn’t know what to suggest (do the surgery/don’t), but if you are off work right now, it would be a good time. The first two days either me or my husband had to be next to her. Now she is more comfortable to stay in her small room by herself. I have taken vacation from work for the rest of the week, so that she can have moments of freedom from her cone, which she loves. Just lays there and chews happily on her bone. :-)

        It is a big decision, so do your homework, verify that the surgeon that would be doing it is qualified, ask a lot of questions – not just about the procedure, but about failures, infections, and how they would address such misfortunes. I know that on the orthodogs sight they have information about Dr. Cook (who pioneered the practice) and an excel sheet with a list of vet’s that have undergone the proper training. Also, you might want to talk to a few patients who had their dog into that surgeon for the TR procedure and very the time after in which they had it done. I have read that problems arise (if they were to arise) anywhere from 6-12 months.

        I was lucky. I have 5 co-workers who used the vet that we went with, so they had the good, the bad, and the ugly of the road ahead. Good luck!

  80. Donna says

    After numerous trips to several different vets I finally found out that my 9 year old Dalmatian has a completely torn ccl. I am contemplating the tightrope surgery for her because it’s less invasive in nature then the TPLO. I wasn’t exactly 100% certain of what the procedure consists of. I was told my dog would need to be crated for 8 weeks after the surgery. Is there any website that fully explains what the tightrope procedure is in full detail. The ortho specialists I saw said my dog could have either surgery.

    • Christine says


      The website above has a 12 minute video of Dr. Jimi Cook (U Missouri) demonstrating the procedure. Dr. Cook developed this procedure. You can also Google to find the datasheets on the post op outcomes of Tightrope head to head with TPLO – but the only ones I have seen are a bit outdated. Dr. Cook sent me updated data sheets last week. You can email me at chrystielyn [at] gmail.com and I can forward all of these materials to you. there is also a pdf from Arthrex online that shows step by step photos of the procedure with instructions.

      We just booked our 60 pound pitbull with a tibial plateau angle of around 27 degrees with Dr. Cook for the Tightrope in early June in Missouri. We are travelling from San Francisco to have it done. It will cost approximately 2400 including take home meds, images, and reasonably anticipated pre and post op care at the hospital there. A message from the vet tech that works with Dr. Cook is below. It tells about what it will be like to have the procedure done there:

      “When you arrive at the Hospital you will first be seen by a 3rd or 4th year vet student. They will take Miley’s history and do a physical and orthopedic exam. They will then present miley’s information to Dr. Cook and discuss what they think is going on and what should be done moving forward.
      Dr. Cook will then come in and talk with you and do his own orthopedic exam. We will then get any additional diagnostics that we need to prepare for surgery.

      Miley will go to surgery the next day. You are more than welcome to wait in the lobby during the procedure. After surgery most dogs wake up from anesthesia pretty smoothly. She will be very groggy for a couple hours after surgery. She will wake up on a heating pad and she will have a cold compression pack put on her knee for 30 min while she is waking up, to help with any swelling or inflammation. After we get her woke up enough you can visit for a few minutes if you would like but we generally like to keep them as quiet as we can and dogs tend to get excited when their owners are around and anxious when they have to leave again. She will stay the night with us . Her knee will have a bandage for the first night and the next morning we will remove it and put the cold compression on for another 30min. She will probably go home the day after surgery unless there is any additional draining or swelling that may require an additional day in the hospital. But she should be able to go home and day or two after surgery. She will not go home with any bandages but she will need to wear an e-collar for a couple weeks until her stitches come out.”

      We practiced conservative management when our girl partially tore her right CCL 2 years ago. It worked well. 5 months ago she completely ruptured her left CCL and we suspect a meniscal tear as well. The conservative management, including supplementing with Trixsyn HA (an acid found in joint synovial fluid and recommended to us by a holistic vet that claims better long term outcomes with its use) and accupuncture sessions, over the last five months has not produced stifle joint stabilization. So we booked the tightrope for her in June. We are still very nervous about the surgery but we believe that we do need to get her joint stabilized.

      Dr. Cook is very good at responding to questions and concerns through email and he has a great body of orthopeadic research and work to his credit. The quote to have it down at U Missouri was subtantially less than 2 other quotes we received (2900 for Bay Area, CA and 3200 in Michigan).

      Although we haven’t actually had the proecedure yet, I hope this information can be of help to you. In making our decision, we also watched videos of the TPLO and TTA. We visited surgeons and interviewed them at length regarding our case. All of them pushed the TPLO on us. We also even took some TPLO dogs out on their bathroom breaks with one of the surgeons – 1 day post op so we could see what one day post op was like. We have not seen an actual post op dog that had a Tightrope – so it seems like a bit of a leap of faith but one we’re willing to make in the namesake of “minimally invasive”.

    • Susan says

      You can email Dr Cook and he will respond that is hpw I found my the Doctor that preformed the proceedure on my Dog… Dr Cook is awesome he will go out of his way to help you.. he did me.

      • linda margolin says

        My 2 1/2 yr old boxer/mix was just diagnosed with CCL. I want to find a doc in the Cleveland area who can perform TR surgery. Could Dr. Cook help me find one?


  81. Susan says

    My Bernese Mountain Dog, 95 pounds, has had both her ACL repaired by Dr Cook’s peroceedure. The first this past April 2010 and the other this past October 2010 . She has done great so far. Not limping at all. I did confine her to the down stairs area for over 3 months she only went down three to go outside. I have been very pleased so far with everthing as a whole. However this past week -end I guess she was feeling very good and she ran quite a bit and Monday she was in a lot of discomfort so much so I had to go to my vet to get some pain releif for her. Tuesday night she was paceing and walking in circles not able to get comfortable I had to take her the emergency vet to get a pain shot.I think she just really over did it. It has been close to 5 months sice her last surgery and close to a year for the other. I think it does take close to a year before they are completly back to themselves. She has done awesome and I am so glad I decided to have it done. I did do a lot of research and drove 4.5 hours for the surgeon I decided to use. I picked the right proceedure and the right surgeon. It is important to try to make careful decisions in these options but the Tightroap is everthing the others are saying less evasive quicker recovery etc… I higly recomend it.

    • Donna Danko says

      Thank you for posting the video on tight rope surgery recovery. My dalmatian is scheduled for the same surgery in a few weeks. Obviously I am a little nervous about the whole procedure.

      It’s nice to see that you dog is recovering nicely.

      • Katie says

        Not a problem. I was really scared of the unknown with the surgery. She just had her 4 week check and the doctor says that she is back to 90% usage. He seems surprised and pleased by her quick recovery. I think that having her on the supplements have helped her recover and ease the joint area. We kept her quiet for the first two weeks. No interactions with anyone, except myself or my husband and she was confined to one area (small carpeted room). I hope your dalmatian and all the other owners on this site have as good of an experience as we have. :-)

    • Steve says

      Here’s a quick update on my Boxer, Molly, who had tightrope surgery 6 weeks ago…

      Molly came home in very good spirits, wearing a huge e-collar that the vet put on her. Molly is just a little over a year and a half, and is a pretty active dog. During the 2 weeks that she had her sutures in (staples) she never bothered her incision, and we never used the e-collar.

      We iced the leg using a bag of frozen peas for several days, to help with the swelling, but it was minimal, to say the least. We ate the peas after the first week. They were delicious.

      Although the vet provided a liberal supply of pain meds and anti inflammatory medications, pain has not been much of an issue. The pain meds seemed to conk her out a bit, so we used them during the first few weeks to keep her calm, when we needed to keep her crated.

      We are still crating her at night, to keep her from coming up the stairs to our bedroom. Other than that, Molly has had free access to the downstairs portion of the house since she came back from the vet, with the exception of staying confined to one room for the first few days.

      Molly has been using her leg almost since the second day she came home. Our vet said that we should let the dog determine how she wanted to use the leg. She was putting full weight on it since early in the second week.

      We have walked her on a leash in the backyard for her bio-breaks, and lately have begun letting her out without the leash, with me or my wife walking along with her, as long as there are no other distractions, like neiboring dogs or squirrels.

      She will go back to the vet for evaluation next week, which will be 7 weeks after the surgery. We expect to begin taking progressive walks with her in the coming weeks.

      I hope that more of your dogs will have the kind of recovery period that Molly has been having.

      • Lauren says


        Its refreshing to hear a success story. I hear so many bad things about every surgery. Please keep me updated on her recovery and use of her leg. I am currently researching all surgeries for larger dogs, and I can’t find any that seem worth going through.

    • Kathy says

      I am curious what supplements you gave your dog during his recovery and did you give those to him from day one of recovery. My Golden is having TR surgery in 2 weeks. I am impressed at your dogs high percentage of usage so quickly. Any other helpful tips would be greatly appreciated!!;))
      Thanks, Kathy

  82. Robin says

    Our 78 pound lab/collie/terrier mix had a 85% torn ACL. It was apparent that she was not feeling well and experiencing pain. Out vet explained the options and some preliminary steps to take before opting for surgery. Our dog continued to experience good days after controlled rest and bad days after overuse. It got to the point that any use was overuse. The vet gave her mild sedation to take xrays to rule out possibility of tumors, broken bones, etc and to stretch her legs to measure flex-ability. Very long story short, our dog endured infection, over medication, and too intrusive, unnecessary surgery. It was heartbreaking to watch her go through this. We had enormous guilt and felt totally helpless. We had put our trust into who we thought was a knowledgeable vet. After she slipped a stitch that bled profusely, and a phone call TWICE to the vet to be told she was on antibiotics and she would be fine, we took it upon ourselves to butterfly the slipped stitch and bring her to another vet for a second opinion. That vet was dismayed at what he saw. Her incision was badly infected, she was over-medicated so that she could not ascertain and convey her pain or to instinctively know her limitations. This vet explained that there were other options. He taught us how to clean her incision, prescribed a different antibiotic and adjusted her pain meds. He also prescribed Glyco Flex chews, Xiao Huo Luo Dan powder, gave her vitamin B12 shots, and used an infra laser light treatment to encourage healing. We happened to have a form of the laser light treatment at home, giving her treatment every other day for 15 minutes. We are happy to say that our girl has recovered nicely and is once again active and enjoying her doggie life. On the days when she may have pushed herself we give her Metacam for no more than three days to help with inflammation. We have changed her diet to Before Grain by Merrick. She has healthily lost several pounds that has helped in the healing and in preventing this type of injury occurring again. We STRONGLY recommend researching the options, finding a vet who is informed and knowledgeable. When all options are exhausted be sure that the vet performing the surgery has the credentials to do so and INQUIRE how many has been performed by that vet. One final thing, our dog was surgically cut at least 5 to 6 inches. NOT NECESSARY!!!! The surgery could have been done with two tiny incisions.

    • says

      Thanks for your post Robin! I had always been curious about the size of the incision on our dog as well. It was like yours a large 5-6 inch cut which was sloppily stapled back together. Not that we were asking for plastic surgery stitches to put the leg back together, but I had always been curious about whether it was necessary to make such a large cut in the leg.

      • Robin says

        I asked the vet why such a large incision? He said that the surgery with the cameras, tiny incisions, could not be used on a dog in the knee area because its so tight there, not much skin, room to move around.

        Our girl is currently hobbling around having overdone her play time. The vet said to expect setbacks for up to a full year, that it takes a full year for this surgery to heal entirely. She had a round of Metacam, 5 days. Metacam is not a medication that should be used for very long, can cause liver problems, and if your dog is on it for a long period of time, blood tests should be done to monitor the liver readings. Our girl showed some improvement with the Metacam, plus the laser light treatment we give her every other day. Its been three weeks since her latest setback.

        Our vet said the tightrope acts like a saw, sawing the tendon when our girl over does her play time. Can I tell you that my stomach turned hearing that and wished I never did this to her. It is agonizing to watch her not use her leg, and/or severely limp. What a dummy, uninformed human I am!

        Our vet also mentioned the plate operation. He highly recommends this surgery. The vet also mentioned that his practice no longer performs the tightrope surgery and hasn’t for years.

    • Susan says

      Was this a Tightroap proceedure or the bracket and screws? I read horror stories about the Bracket proceedure where they cust the boan and repitch the leg that is what the first sergon I consulted wated to perform. I would not do it!

    • Christine says

      Robin, your case sounds like malpractice. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but several things you mention in your post are very alarming. Specifically, arthroscopy is safe for canine knees and is performed to manage canine joint degeneration at leading hospitals. Also, the tightrope implant should not interfere with any “tendons”. Nor, when tensioned properly and with the proper activity restrictions in the first 8 weeks post op should it act like a saw on any of the other stifle structures. I urge you to reach out to Dr. Jimi Cook, the developer of this procedure. He can potentially guide you on what best to do for your sweet girl at this stage. He truly cares about the safety of these restorative procedures and we had a wonderful experience with him both pre, during and post operatively. He may have a local recommendation for care for you also. His email (he is very responsive) is cookjl@mizzou.edu

      • Robin says

        I agree that the first and original vet that performed the surgery are total hacks. Their disdain of a slipped post op suture, two days after surgery, was a huge clue. It was reinforced at our girl’s post op follow up when this vet pooh poohed it off yet said our girl had a nasty infection. I also took that opportunity to inform her that the counter staff, when I called about the slipped suture the second time on the same day, informed me that they close in 15 minutes. I responded that I could be there in 5 minutes. I got the same ‘closing in 15 minutes’ response and I repeated myself. Then I got total silence on the phone. The vet said yes they close at 5:00 BUT if I had waited til 5:15 to call the answering service would have called her and the vet would have called me. I stared at her in disbelief thinking why on earth would I WAIT to 5:15 to have you call me and do what happened twice that day when I called, which was absolutely nothing.

        The second vet we took our girl to, though we could tell he wasn’t going to badmouth the original vet, taught us how to clean her wound, adjusted her meds, changed her antibiotics.

        He showed us how to give our girl physical therapy. His reducing her pain med was a God send because our girl was too doped up to recognize her limitations, upping our girl’s odds of causing herself serious injury.

        We have been to the second vet several times since our girl’s surgery. Our girl has had a tough time with this surgery, very prolonged recovery, with some setbacks of overuse/overextending her leg.

        Last night, we happened to have a follow up visit. I took that time to revisit some of our concerns. I misspoke about the sawing into tendons. What the vet said is during overuse/overextending of the replacement ACL (which is similar to 80 lb fishing line)acts like a saw on the new tissue that her body is making. He recommended Metacam three days on and four days off cycle until her limp stopped. During this time, we are giving her an herbal powder, Xia Huo Luo Dan, which is a natural anti inflammatory. He has been giving our girl vitamin B12 injections at each visit, and laser therapy. I have had one person tell me that this is overkill in treatment. Maybe so or maybe not. I can say that each time we leave the vet our girl improves in great degrees.

        This vet also feels that our girl, who weighs 79 lbs, is not fat, has a solid barrel chest, and is very active, was not a good candidate for the tightrope procedure. He feels that the metal plate procedure (forgive me, I don’t know the medical terminology for it)would have been the way to go.

        Thank you to Christine for providing the name and email for Dr. Jimi Cook. I did write it down and plan on sharing with Dr. Cook our girl’s experiences. I welcome your input Christine and Susan.

      • Susan says

        Oh Robin I am so sorry I would have had an absolute fit if that happed to my dog. The comment about being to large for the Tight Rope could not be further from the truth. The fact is that if you speak to Dr Cook he will tell you that this was designed for the larger dog that is when I was convienced that this wss the right route to go. He also said that they had performed this on much bigger heavier dogs than Bella and she is 95 pounds. He also said that they had perforemed it on many show dogs who were in the ring a year later and no one could tell. That is how Miss Bella is now she runs and romps and has a great time like she never had surgery. Yes she still gets a little tired and slows down some what after running but she never limps any longer. I also did trade in my SUV for a VAN so that she no longer jumps down on hard pavement and so on. Yes I bought a vehicle for my dogs…. Call me crazy but they are happier and so am I.

  83. Susan says

    My Miss Bella 90+ Bernese Mouatin dog had her first Tight Roap proceedure a year ago April and and her second one this past October and she is running and having a great summer. After a lot of exersise like walking for two hours and running and playing with my 2 year old Berner she looks a little tired and slows down but never a limp at all. It is an awesome summer compared to last year. I highly recomend it for anyone aI am sorry I waited so long actually but thought it might go away… I did a lot of research before I decied what to do. Spoke to Dr Cook and he conviced me that it was the way to go. My surgeon did make a little larger incesion than I thought but he wanted to make sure it would be done right and not to do again. It was not a big deal she mended very nicly.

    • Lauren says

      Hi Susan,
      I have a young (about one year) mix that weighs 89 pounds but she might still be growing a little. Our vet believes she has a partial or fully torn cruciate ligament in one of her knees. Im considering all surgeries. Why did your dog need the tightrope surgery twice?

  84. Stacy says

    My 13 lb bichon Cosita had this surgery 2 days ago. She’s still in the painful first few days stage, but I hope she does as well as most of the rest of your dogs have! I’m not seeing much as to the recuperation of little dogs having this surgery, so I decided to keep a blog for others who might be in the same situation. Hopefully it will help somebody.

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  86. Jeff says

    I have a 95 lb lab named Jake that had the tight rope procedure March 30, 2011.It was done by the Chesapeake Veterinary Surgical Specialists in Towson Md. They were all great and Jake is doing well. They kept him over night after the operation. We picked him up the next day, but that night was ruff. I guess because the fluids he was given, he had to get outside 6 times thru out the night. Chesapeake had the only doctor in Maryland around me the did the tight rope procedure. The cost was $2500.00. The doctor did go over all 3 knee procedures with us, but we liked the tight rope because the other two had to do with cutting bones.I will comment on Jakes progress in the up coming weeks.

  87. Colleen says

    We did tight rope surgery for our 100 lb Native American Indian Dog last winter. We found a vet who recommended the procedure and it cost under $700 for everything. I went to a rural vet where they keep costs low though. The vet did several tight rope surgies last winter. Dakota has good days and not as good days but she can resume our walks, and activitiy. I don’t think the TPLO would have been any better as far as her recovery. I think part of her pain comes from hip displasia but it’s hard to know for sure. She was just under 4 when she had her injury.
    After talking to the vet about our options and going through the surgery with our dog I would recommend tight rope.

  88. says

    Hi Jimmy – This surgery should be appropriate, I thinks its just a matter of finding a surgeon in your area who can do the tightrope procedure because it is a relatively new procedure. Best of luck.

  89. jenna says

    Hello jeff,
    i’ve been looking at TPLO or tightrope surgery for my dog. she is a 1 1/2 yr old lab and ruptured the tendon in her knee. It would b nice to hear from a pet owner whose dog has already had this surgery and is doing well, hope you and your dog are well


  90. Gregg says

    Our black lab/Akita mix (#80) had both knees done with tightrope surgery in Sep 2010 – he was about nine at the time. He is still doing well. He is slow in sitting down and getting up the stairs, but once outside he runs like a dog should, with independent leg movements. So he’s old, heavy and slow, but he’s happy and doesn’t appear to be in pain.


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