Veterinary surgical stabilization remains the treatment of choice for both partial and complete CCL tears in dogs of any size to ensure optimum function.

The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) in dogs is the equivalent of the human ACL. It is a relatively large ligament within the center of the stifle (knee) that keeps the tibia and femur in alignment. The CCL prevents the tibia from sliding back and forth relative to the femur, termed cranial thrust or drawer. It also restricts hyperextension and excessive internal rotation.

When the CCL tears, the joint becomes unstable, painful, and arthritic. This can subsequently lead to tearing of the cartilage between the bones (the meniscus). In most cases, CCL tears are caused by degeneration of the ligament. Approximately 50% of dogs will tear both cruciate ligaments. A CCL tear is diagnosed by physical examination; sedation may be required for complete evaluation.

Symptoms include:

  • pain on range of motion
  • thickening of the affected stifle
  • effusion (increased fluid) within the joint
  • instability on palpation


Veterinary Lateral Suture Stabilization Surgery

In this technique, a strong monofilament suture is placed from the lateral fabella (a small bone adjacent to the femur) to the tibial crest. This suture limits cranial translation of the tibia relative to the femur and maintains normal range of motion in the knee.lateral_suture

Menisci are examined and tears of the medial meniscus are treated with a partial medial meniscectomy or removal of the torn portion. The lateral suture is ideal for patients under 40 pounds. Dogs over 30 pounds should be considered for a geometric modification procedure (TPLO or TTA).

Recovery from knee surgery at WestVet

The knee is bandaged for the first 24—48 hours after surgery to minimize post-operative swelling. Rehabilitation is generally instituted within the first 3 days after surgery to ensure early weight bearing on the limb and improve usage.

Long-term prognosis is good for patients undergoing surgical stabilization. Complications include:

  • infection
  • failure of the implant to stabilize the joint adequately
  • breakage of the implant requiring replacement
  • latent meniscal injury
  • progression of arthritis

The board certified surgeons at WestVet have extensive training and experience with Lateral Suture Stabilization and other procedures used to stabilize the knee.

Please see your family veterinarian for a referral for a consultation with a WestVet surgeon. If you have questions regarding knee surgery for your dog, feel to contact us at 208.375.1600.

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