Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Poor Capone: dogs rupturing anterior cruciate ligaments

This little guy blew his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and is scheduled for surgery in a couple of weeks. Late this fall, he started limping and got a prescription to help with the swelling and pain in the hope that with rest, he’d be ok. Unfortunately, the veterinarian diagnosed a ruptured ACL making his back leg joint unstable to the point where he can’t put weight on it.

Blowing an ACL is relatively common to otherwise healthy dogs. Dogs who normally love to run and play suddenly put little or no pressure on one of their back legs. When the ACL ruptures, the joint becomes unstable and functions abnormally – we call it the three legged dog.

If your dog is diagnosed with a torn ACL, your options range from limiting the dog’s mobility to a number of surgical procedures. Depending on the dog’s age and available budget, what our customers often opt for is the patented Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO).

As with any surgery, success isn’t guaranteed and varies on a case-by-case basis. Bakari (pictured above) who used to LOVE to run had this surgery, yet still has limited mobility.

If surgery is needed, the cost typically ranges between $2,200-$3,000 per leg with anaesthetic and medications, and if it happens to one leg, the other leg often goes too. One theory is that because the dog is favouring their bad leg, the extra burden makes the good leg go.

Ways to potentially avoid the painful and costly problem are to avoid obesity at all costs - exercise your dog and keep them fit and trim. Some times it just happens. If your dog has stiffness and very mild lameness, it could be early signs of early cruciate disease. Talk with your vet about your specific dog’s options relative to expected results, cost and recovery time.

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1 comment:

  1. ACL injuries really are more common in dogs than people realize. Owners of larger breed dogs often hear a lot about hip dysplasia, but ACL inuries often don't come up until they already happened.

    Our Jasmine also had a bilateral ACL surgery. We didn't really like the idea of the invasive TPLO and opted for an older type of surgery - the extracapsular repair. For larger dogs, our great vet does a modified version, where he uses an extra suture to provide greater stability.

    We combined the extracapsular repair with stem cell regenerative therapy to assist healing and to help with arthritis that quickly develops with ACL injuries. Jasmine has recovered really well, and has her full mobility back.

    Whether the second knee gives up after the first initial ACL injury depends on the underlaying cause. When otherwise healthy ligament gets injured, the other knee often holds up. More often than not, however, the injury is a result of a progressive degeneration of the ligaments, where they gradually keep getting weaker, until finally they rupture. In those case, the chance of the second knee giving up are very high.

    Obesity is one of the very common reasons why ACL would rupture. Other conditions though, such as hypothyrodism, are linked to weakening ligaments and ACL injuries.