Cruciate injury is best treated surgically to return stability to the joint, and to try and reduce the strain on the joint. The most successful technique of the many that are now available, remains the tibial plateau levelling osteotomy (TPLO), in which by means of a single curved cut through the bone, the top of the tibia is tilted downwards at the front of the joint, then fixed in place with a plate and screws.
While this does not remove arthritis, and cannot return the joint to being a brand new version, in the majority of cases it does allow the joint to go back to functioning very well again, including running, playing, and exercising as normal.
The procedure can be done on almost any size of dog, and we are routinely performing it now on dogs from about 6kg to 70kg.
Traditional techniques such as nylon banding, are simpler to perform but are associated with a more rapid progression of arthritis, sometimes a prolonged period of lameness after surgery, and in small breed dogs struggle to stabilise the joint well due to the anatomy of small dog stifle joints.
Ollie is a 5-year-old JRT cross who had TPLO surgery this year on his stifle joint, shown in the x-ray image. The joint takes around 12 weeks to recover fully after surgery, but after that Ollie will be able to use this leg as normal again.
If you have any questions about cruciate injury or the surgical options available, please feel free to give me a call or drop me a line at the clinic.
Paul Eason BVM&S MANZCVS