Canine ACL Surgery Options

In humans, an anterior cruciate ligament injury occurs when a person moves or stops suddenly, lands incorrectly or receives a direct blow to the knee. In dogs, the ACL is actually the cranial cruciate ligament, or CrCl. A CrCl injury is more often the result of repetitive strain and slow degeneration, especially in large-breed and overweight dogs. Treatment and surgical options vary based on the severity of the injury.


Extra-Capsular Suture Stabilization

Extra-capsular suture stabilization, also known as the fishing line technique, is a procedure that essentially provides an additional support structure for the injured ligament. During surgery, the veterinarian places a fishing line material on the outside of the joint, stabilizing the tibia and the femur while allowing regular knee movement. Unfortunately, while this procedure works well on small breeds and inactive dogs, it is often not strong enough for large breeds and active dogs.

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy

Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy alters the knee joint and enables movement that is no longer dependent on the cranial cruciate ligament. A small circular cut is made into the top of the tibia while the contact surface is rotated. The veterinarian screws a bridging plate into the bone to stabilize. This method provides strong support to the knee joint and is a better-suited surgery for large-breed and active dogs.

Tibial Tuberosity Advancement

Tibial tuberosity advancement is similar to tibial plateau leveling osteotomy, with the main difference being the location of the bone cut. While the tibial plateau makes a cut on the top of the tibia, the tibial tuberosity cuts along the front of the tibia and brings it forward to a 90-degree orientation with the patellar tendon. A bridging bone plate secures the bone in place.

Therapy and Rehab

In the case of a strain or small tear, surgery may not always be necessary. Other forms of treatment include weight reduction in overweight dogs, rest and confinement to allow healing, medications for pain and inflammation and physical therapy. At Oregon State University's Canine Rehabilitation Center, therapy includes underwater treadmill exercises, laser therapy and resistance-training exercises.

By Deborah Lundin

About the Author
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.