Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease in Dogs

By:  Dr. Tony Luchetti 

The most common hindlimb injury in dogs is the rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (sometimes referred to as acl). This ligament can be completely or partially ruptured. Usually the dog will not put weight on the leg when the ligament is completely ruptured. When the ligament is partially ruptured the dog’s signs can vary from a mild limp to once again, not putting any weight on the leg.

 The stifle joint is the joint between the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). A ligament is a band of connective tissue which connects two bones. The cranial cruciate ligament is one of the ligaments which connects the thigh bone to the shin bone. This ligament contributes to the stability of the stifle joint.

The ligament can rupture from trauma or it can just weaken. The most common way we diagnose a ruptured cruciate ligament is by feeling excessive movement in the knee (called cranial drawer). Unfortunately, when a dog ruptures the acl ligament in one knee they have a 40% chance of rupturing the acl ligament in the other knee within 2 years. The treatment of choice for acl ruptures is surgery. The type of surgery done at Baring Blvd Veterinary Hospital is called an extracapsular repair. In this technique large monofilament suture is used to stabilize the knee. Two other techniques which are done by a specialist in town are called 1) tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (tplo) and 2) tibial tuberosity advancement. Both of these techniques affect the biomechanics of the knee to create stabilization. If you have any questions we can go over the advantages and disadvantages of each technique with you. If your dog has been limping or you would like to know more about cruciate ligament ruptures give us a call to set up an appointment.