Cruciate ligament injury

Injuries to the cruciate ligaments in dogs are very common, especially in larger breeds of dogs, but can also affect small breeds and even cats.


There are multiple different techniques recorded for operating on cruciate ligament injured dogs and cats. They fall into two main groups.

The first group comprises using a prosthetic ligament (normally made from nylon leader line) to replace the torn or damaged ligament. This works well in small dogs, but as the dogs get larger the results are less easy to predict, and in large dogs they can have poor outcomes.

The second group involves making one or more cuts into the tibia (shin bone) in order to alter the angle the top of the shinbone makes to a measured line. There are several techniques in this group, all slightly different. This is a much more complicated surgery than the nylon prosthetic, but the results in medium and large breeds of dog are normally much superior. We can perform triple tibial osteotomy (TTO) surgery for you.


Suitable candidates

Any dog in reasonable good health with a cruciate ligament injury is a good candidate for surgery. Surgery becomes much more important in larger dogs (more than 10kg) but is also recommended for smaller dogs too. Increasing age makes injury more likely, but does not rule out successful surgery.

Our protocol is:
  • Dogs under 15kg bodyweight: extracapsular nylon prosthetic ligament placement
  • Dogs over 15kg bodyweight: triple tibial osteotomy
  • Dogs with multiple ligaments injured: as above depending on size, plus prosthetic replacement of damaged collateral ligaments
  • Cats: no surgery if a single ligament injured. Transarticular pinning if multiple ligaments damaged

Time involved in clinic

Small dogs may only be in clinic for 24 hours. Larger dogs are normally kept quietly resting in the clinic for 48 hours after surgery.

After care

The period of rest after cruciate ligament surgery is quite long, up to 12 weeks, and it is critically important that the instructions given are followed closely in order to get the best results.

How to book

Give reception a ring on 09 238 7486 to discuss transfer of your patient to our clinic for assessment and treatment. You may be asked to bring any clinical notes, xrays images, and medications with you when you come.