Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease

What is Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease?

The stifle (or knee joint) of dogs is a very complex joint. Within the stifle are the cruciate ligaments, which act to prevent the forwards and backwards motion of the bones within the joint. The cranial cruciate ligament acts to prevent the tibia sliding forward when weight is applied through the joint as your dog walks or runs. In most dogs, this cruciate ligament undergoes slow weakening or degeneration over time. Eventually, this degeneration may lead to a partial or complete rupture of the ligament. Rupture of the ligament results in instability of the stifle joint as weight is applied through the joint.

Early signs of cruciate disease will appear as stiffness and a mild lameness of the hindlimb. Dogs may prevent placing all their weight on the leg when standing or walking, or may be unable to sit straight. As the disease progresses, these clinical signs become worse until dogs no-longer want to put weight on their leg. 

When the ligament is damaged, it results in laxity and abnormal movement within the joint. This abnormal movement stretches the surrounding tissues, causing pain. This movement can also damage the meniscus (cartilage pads) within the joint, resulting in arthritic changes. 

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How is Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease Treated?

Once cruciate ligament disease is diagnosed, we will discuss the best treatment option for your dog. These options can range from rest and pain relief, to surgical repair of the joint.

At McLaren Vale Veterinary Surgery we have years of experience performing cruciate repair surgeries, including the Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy (aka TPLO). The TPLO is a procedure where the top of the tibia is cut, rotated and fixed in place to make the knee biologically stable when dogs walk or run. This removes the painful movement which occurs within the stifle when dogs rupture their cruciate ligament. The TPLO is now viewed as the Gold Standard method of repair for many dogs with Cruciate Ligament disease.

If you feel your dog may have damaged their cruciate ligament, contact the clinic to book a cruciate ligament assessment with our experienced vets. Call our clinic on 8323 8522 or click the button below.

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