Dogs have a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) similar to the human ACL. This ligament runs along the leg and can tear, causing significant injury if not treated. In this article, our veterinarians at Seattle explore TPLO surgery to treat torn or injured CCL in dogs.

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) Surgery

If your canine companion tears their cranial cruciate ligament, your vet will likely recommend performing surgery to correct it. The surgery, known as Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO), restores mobility to your dog's knee without relying on the damaged ligament for stability. This procedure can help your dog return to normal activities like running and jumping!

Tearing the CCL is Painful

If your dog experiences a torn cruciate ligament, the knee's instability generates pain stemming from a motion known as 'tibial thrust.' Tibial thrust results from the weight transfer up a dog's shin bone (tibia) and across the knee, prompting the shinbone to leap forward relative to the dog's thigh bone.

This forward "thrust" occurs due to the sloped top of a dog's tibia, which cannot hinder undesired movement.

Details of TPLO Surgery

TPLO surgery reconfigures your dog's knee by eliminating the need for the cranial cruciate ligament. During the procedure, a surgeon makes a curved cut to the patient's tibia and then rotates the tibial plateau (top section) to level the tibia and femur. After achieving the desired position of the tibial plateau, the surgeon completes the TPLO surgery by attaching a metal plate to stabilize the knee as it heals around the new configuration.

Recovering From TPLO - Dog Recuperation Times

Following TPLO surgery, dogs will be able to walk on the leg within 24 hours, and most will bear moderate amounts of weight within 2 weeks.

Recovering from TPLO surgery is a long process for dogs, but the recovery time for TPLO surgery is still much shorter than comparable surgeries, coming in at around 12-16 weeks. Expect your dog to return to total physical activity approximately 6 months after TPLO surgery.

What to Do if Your Dog Jumped After TPLO Surgery 

Following your vet's post-operative instructions will assist your dog in avoiding re-injuring the leg during the healing process. Refrain from allowing your dog to run or jump after TPLO surgery until the knee has adequately healed. Although incidents may still happen, it's important to note that no one is perfect, and regrettably, there's no way to communicate the details of TPLO surgery to our canine companions.

If you observe any of the following symptoms, be sure to reach out to your veterinarian:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Missing staples or stitches
  • Signs of infection or inflammation at the incision site
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Reluctance to put weight on recovering leg
  • Sensitivity to pain medications

Your vet can examine your pup for signs of complications and treat any issues before they become more severe.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

More questions about TPLO surgery? Contact our Seattle vets today.