Most people have heard of ruptured cruciate ligaments from the injury that is suffered by sports people, but it is also a fairly common injury in dogs and cats. The cruciate ligaments (there are two in each knee) basically join the thigh bone (femur) to the calf bone (tibia) and stop the two bones from moving backwards and forwards from each other (the knee is really just a ‘hinge’!). Rupture is usually caused by a twisting movement such as when a dog stumbles on a pothole whilst running. Some breeds are more prone to this injury, terriers and Rottweilers for example, but it can happen to any dog. We suspect there may also be some genetic component as dogs that have ruptured the ligaments in one knee are prone to also do the same injury in the other knee.
There are many methods of repair which reflects that not one is perfect, but the modern techniques are not far off. Small dogs and cats often need no treatment, the rest of the joint thickens up with time and can take the strain, and remember dogs and cats can redistribute the weight over 3 other legs, rather than people who only have 2!
In days gone by repair was by replacing the ligament as closely as possible using various materials (nylon, wire, strips of muscle or skin) by various techniques (through the joint or around the outside). It was very difficult to replicate the original ligament accurately and by entering the joint surgically there was a high incidence of arthritis in later life.
So in recent years treatment has moved to altering the shape of the bones around the knee joint (usually the tibia) to change the dynamics of the joint and take over the role the cruciate ligament used to have. there have been many ways of doing this, the most up to date is called a Tibial Tuberosity Advancement Rapid (TTA Rapid – there is also a TTA without the rapid ). It involves surgery to move the front part of the tibia below the knee forwards and we are pleased that we can offer this surgery at Withy Grove. One of our vets (Suanne) has been using these methods for many years with excellent results and cheaper than using many referral hospital veterinary practices.
Obviously this is complicated and thus relatively expensive surgery but we also offer the most advanced ligament replacement surgery, using a nylon ligament running outside the join to minimise arthritis.
Please give us a ring if you wish to discuss these treatments.