Dog CCL Surgery

If your dog is Limping on one of his hind legs, he may have torn, or ruptured his cruciate ligament. Most times it is the Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) that tears/ruptures, which is akin to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans.  

Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) tear or rupture is one of the most common orthopedic problems affecting dogs today. This ligament connects the back of the femur (bone above the knee) with the front of the tibia (bone below the knee). The CCL is responsible for stabilizing the knee joint by keeping the tibia in place beneath the femur.

Unlike with humans, untreated CCL tears are nearly always debilitating and often lead to progressive osteoarthritis. The underlying cause of these tears is chronic biomechanical wear and tear. Clinical signs of a CCL tear in your dog may happen suddenly or slowly. Depending on the severity of the injury a dog’s symptoms may range from being unable to bear weight on the injured leg to having just slight occasional limping.

There are many different methods of surgical correction with CCL injuries, but two basic surgical strategies to deal with them.

  1. Hold the bones in position at the joint with a surgically installed restraint which will allow near-normal movement of the joint while preventing improper movement. Tough fibrous scar tissue then builds up around the joint to stabilize it long-term. The most common surgical stabilization of this nature is called a lateral suture stabilization.
  2. Cut the bones and reposition sections of the bones using metal plates or implants to alter the relationship of the bones to each other, changing the tibial plateau angle of the knee joint. The most common surgical procedures to do this are the TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy) or the TTA (tibial tuberosity advancement).

Depending on certain factors, some veterinarians will recommend the TPLO or TTA for dogs with CCL injuries. However, the cost of the TPLO and TTA surgeries can be prohibitive, thus the lateral suture stabilization is recommended as a more affordable option for the client.

Lateral Suture Stabilization Surgery for Dogs

At World of Animals at Bethayres we offer the lateral suture extracapsular stabilization for CCL injury. This procedure uses a heavy suture composed of nylon outside of the joint to stabilize the knee joint.  The theory behind this surgery is simple. By placing the suture and holding the bones in place at the joint in a way that allows near-normal joint movement, it will provide conditions under which the body can begin to build up permanent scar tissue to provide joint stabilization.

Our veterinarians will consult with you to decide if the lateral suture stabilization is the best solution for your pet. Some dogs who are larger breeds or have high-energy temperament may be better served by the TPLO or TTA surgery. And being that this is a major surgery for your pet, our veterinarians will consult with you to determine the best option in your pet’s specific circumstance.

After surgery, it is very important to be careful about proper activity restriction in the post-operative period. Activity must be sufficiently restricted to allow the new supporting scar tissue to slowly develop without being damaged by excessive stresses on the joint. This process takes months and our veterinarians will provide thorough instructions as to how to properly rehabilitate your pet in the post-operative period and keep the re-stabilized knee safe from re-injury before allowing your dog to fully return to normal activity.  

Physical therapy with a trained and certified rehabilitation practitioner is encouraged.

If your dog has hind leg lameness and needs an evaluation, please call World of Animals at Bethayres to schedule an appointment: (215)947-5110


Tamara Borland VMD