What is the CCL, Cruciate or ACL in Dogs?
A dog's cranial cruciate ligament (also known as the CCL, ACL or cruciate) is a strip of tissue that connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). In people, this ligament is referred to as the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL.
In our canine companions, the cruciate is load-bearing, since the dog's leg stays bent when standing. If your dog's cruciate gets torn or injured, the knee will become unstable, reducing your dog's ability to walk and run normally. Pain will also occur.
Signs of a Cruciate Injury in Dogs
Signs that your dog's cruciate is injured can appear suddenly, though they typically develop gradually — over a period of a few weeks. The most common signs of a cruciate injury include:
- Difficulty rising or jumping
- Stiffness after rest, following exercise
- Swelling surrounding the knee
- Limping or lameness in hind leg
If your dog has a mildly injured cruciate but continues their regular active lifestyle such as running and jumping and long walks, the injury will gradually grow more serious and symptoms will become increasingly more severe. If your dog is displaying any symptoms listed above, contact your vet. Many dogs with a single torn cruciate will go on to injure the other hind leg as well, causing severe mobility issues and pain for your pet.
TPLO - Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy Surgery
If your dog is suffering from a torn cruciate, your Farmington Hills vet may recommend TPLO or Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy surgery to treat the injury (or refer you to a vet specialist who can recommend the appropriate treatment).
TPLO surgery eliminates the need for the cranial cruciate ligament by reconfiguring the knee, rather than supplementing the ligament with the use of a suture through an Extracapsular Repair.
During TPLO surgery, a curved cut is made in the tibia from the front to the back, then the top section (the tibial plateau) is rotated backward until the angle between the tibia and femur is appropriately level. Once the tibial plateau is in the desired position a metal plate is attached to the bone to stabilize the two sections while they heal in their new configuration.
Recovery from TPLO Surgery in Dogs
The fact is that regardless of which surgery you choose to treat your dog's torn cruciate, full recovery will take about 12-16 weeks. However, recovering from TPLO surgery is relatively quick. Many dogs will be walking on the leg as soon as 24 hours after surgery, and most will be bearing moderate amounts of weight on the leg within 2 weeks. Following your vet's post-operative instructions will help your dog to avoid re-injuring the leg while it's still healing. Your dog should not be permitted to run or jump after TPLO surgery until the knee has had time to heal. You can expect your dog to return to full physical activity approximately 6 months after TPLO surgery.
At Angel Animal Hospital in Farmington Hills, our compassionate veterinarians provide first-rate treatment and emergency care for pets. If we are not able to diagnose or treat the issue, we can refer you to a veterinary specialist nearby.
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.