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Anterior/Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture
Diagnosis of a ruptured cruciate ligament
The diagnosis of a ruptured cruciate ligament is made through observing abnormal movement of the joint through palpation and diagnostic radiography. With palpation, the veterinarian can elicit a 'drawer sign'. It is called that because the movement of the femur in relation to the tibia is similar to pulling and pushing in the drawer of a cabinet. Many dogs with a ruptured cruciate ligament will have swelling on the inside aspect of the knee, and this is called a medial buttress. Radiographs are commonly performed to better assess the amount of arthritis that may be present.
Treatment of a ruptured cruciate ligament
Surgery is indicated with a complete ACL tear, especially in large dogs. There are several methods of repairing the knee joint, those of which should be discussed with your veterinarian and the surgeon.
Lateral Suture Stabilization (LSS)
The lateral suture technique involves placing a polypropylene line around the outside of the knee joint to stabilize it from moving front to back.
Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO)
In this procedure, a portion of the tibia is cut, moved, and reattached to a different portion of the tibia using plates and screws. By changing the conformation of the tibia, the joint is stabilized. This is a technically difficult surgery but it has shown to produce excellent results, often with less arthritis.
If the dog's exercise is restricted as instructed, and overweight dogs return to normal body weight, the prognosis is good. Depending on the amount of injury to the knee and length of time between the injury and correction of the problem, degenerative joint disease may occur as the pet ages.