A torn cranial cruciate ligament is a common orthopedic injury, especially for active dogs. This injury is similar to an ACL tear in humans – it is very painful and debilitating. If your dog has torn their cranial cruciate ligament, orthopedic surgery is essential to restoring stability to the knee joint, relieving pain and improving mobility. When compared with other orthopedic surgery techniques, TPLO (tibial plateau leveling) surgery results in a more rapid recovery, a better range of motion for the joint, a reduced risk for arthritis development, and an improved ability to return to an active lifestyle.

When a dog tears it cranial cruciate ligament, the femur bone will slide against the tibia when standing or putting weight on the injured leg. This sliding causes painful rubbing and inflammation. As a result, your dog may limp and be unable to place any pressure on the injured leg. As long as this instability continues, your dog will struggle to walk.

TPLO Surgery Procedures

The principle behind TPLO surgery is straightforward: change the dynamics of a dog’s knee so that the torn ligament no longer is destabilizing the knee. During the procedure, our veterinarian will cut and rotate the tibial plateau. This rotation will prevent the tibial plateau from sliding backwards. TPLO surgery effectively eliminates the need for the cranial cruciate ligament to stabilize the knee. This change means dogs are able to again place equal pressure on their legs and move freely. In most cases, our canine patients are able bear weight on the injured leg within a few days of surgery.

While recovery from TPLO surgery is generally faster than other orthopedic procedures, this is still considered to be a major surgical operation. Your pet will be placed under anesthesia for the procedure. We will keep pets under observation immediately following surgery. All pets are sent home with detailed post-operative care instructions and pain management medication.

TPLO surgery is a good option for bringing mobility back to your pet’s body. However, not every dog or cat is a good candidate for surgery. Our veterinarian will take into consideration your cat or dog’s age, size and weight, as well as the degree of joint disease (e.g. arthritis), should any be present. In some cases an alternative surgery may be a better option. Following a comprehensive diagnostic exam, our veterinarian will discuss all your pet’s treatment options with you.