What is a CCL injury: A CCL (Cranial Cruciate Ligament) injury is one of the most common orthopedic issues found in canines. It is a painful injury to the ligaments in the knee that connect the femur and tibia. (it is the equivalent of a human ACL injury) The ligaments in the knee can weaken or deteriorate over time for a variety of reasons. A CCL can tear or rupture causing instability of the knee joint. Approximately 60% of dogs who sustain a CCL tear/rupture in 1 leg will eventually sustain a similar injury in the 2nd leg. Although this type of injury is more common in larger breed dogs, it can occur in smaller breed dogs as well. The longer a CCL tear or rupture remains unaddressed, the more the long-term damage increases due to the unstable joint. Surgical stabilization of the knee joint is often recommended to reduce and slow the long-term pain and progressive irreversible damage to the joint. One of the ways to do this is by performing a TPLO. (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) TPLO surgery has been utilized for over 20 years. This type of surgery has the greatest outcome of returning your pet’s leg to near normal function for those candidates who qualify for this procedure.
What to expect
Diagnosis: Physical examination of the knee will include palpation to assess any instability (This instability is referred to as “Cranial Drawer Movement” or “Cranial Tibial Thrust). Radiographs taken while under sedation will be used to determine the level of damage to the joint and if a TPLO surgery is an option for your pet. Preparing your home: Once the surgery is deemed an option for your pet, plans for your pet’s *STRICT* confinement should be made. Restricting your pet’s mobility during the post-surgical recovery period is crucial to the success of the surgical repair. If your pet is already crate trained, utilizing a crate that is large enough for them to stand up and turn around in is a good option. Creating a gated off area of your home can also provide a safe space for them that will limit their mobility. All access to any stairs without your direct supervision should be eliminated. Remember that hardwood floors or other hard surfaces can be challenging for your pet to walk on post-surgery so you may consider providing them with a rubber backed area rug or a carpeted area to recuperate in. The recovery period on average takes 12 weeks. You will want to purchase a size appropriate rear-lift harness for your pet or plan on purchasing one at the clinic the day of surgery. Obtaining cold packs to ice the injured leg after surgery is also recommended.
Pain management: A multimodal approach to pain control will be utilized to mange your pet’s pain level from the day of diagnosis, throughout the surgical procedure, and into recovery and rehabilitation. During the surgical procedure, Injectable medications are administered before, during, and after completion of the procedure. A long acting (3day) local anesthetic is also administered during the procedure. Multiple oral medications appropriate for your individual pet are sent home for pain management during the initial recovery and rehabilitation process at home.
Recovery/Rehabilitation: Movement is restricted for 10-12 weeks after surgery with the expectation that most pets are able resume full activity by 6 months after surgery. In the beginning, there will ONLY be short leash walks to relieve themselves outside. Utilizing a rear lift harness will make this process easier and cause less discomfort for your pet. As the recovery progresses, follow-up radiographs and rehabilitation exercises will be part of your pet’s post-surgical care.