Ruptured ACL

What is a ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)?

A torn ACL is one of the most common knee injuries in the canine and feline. The cruciate ligaments are two fibrous tissue bands in each knee joint. Just as humans have two cruciate ligaments, dogs and cats do as well to aid with support for the knee. These ligaments connect to the femur and tibia to keep them from sliding around and destabilizing the joint. Your pet can rupture these ligaments through quick twisting movements or simply taking a spill on the floor. A veterinary examination is necessary to diagnose a ruptured ACL. The purpose of the exam is to determine if there is laxity in the knee and the degree of the laxity. This examination is essential in making a diagnosis. X-rays are also likely to be required in order to evaluate for bone avulsion and arthritis. Repairing torn ligaments through an ACL surgery is a common procedure.

How is an ACL injury treated?

Dr. Knox can provide a proper diagnosis for a torn ACL. If the ACL is ruptured, surgery will be required to correct the problem. If the ACL isn’t ruptured there may be other options to aid in healing of the joint including rest, laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma therapy, and stem-cell therapy. Surgery, however, may eventually be necessary. If a ruptured ACL is left untreated, the affected joint will remain unstable and result in a rapid onset of arthritis. Surgery can slow the arthritic process in the joint if it is performed. Excessive weight plays a huge role in ACL injury and treatment. The excessive weight causes the ligament to become weakened due to the extra strain and compromises the healing process.

What ACL surgeries are performed?

When ACL surgery has been recommended, Dr. Knox will do everything necessary to provide the best possible outcome. An ACL surgery will stabilize the joint so it gains complete or almost full functionality. The recommended procedure for smaller dogs and cats (under 20 LBS) is called a “Lateral Suture” or “Extracapsular Repair”. The recommended surgeries for larger dogs are called a Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) or a Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA). These surgeries are performed by cutting into the tibia (shin bone), right below the knee, and the cut segment of bone is rotated in order to stabilize the knee. Then a titanium metal plate is placed to keep the bone in position. All of these surgical procedures tend to have a very favorable outcome.

What are the post-surgery care suggestions?

Once surgery is completed, Dr. Knox will discuss the rehabilitation process with you. He is one of the only veterinarians in Escondido and San Diego County that is trained and certified in canine physical rehabilitation. His goal will be to develop a course of therapy that will allow your pet to get back to a normal routine as quickly as possible. The injury and surgery will, unavoidably, lead to significant muscle weakness and atrophy as well as joint stiffness. The goal of rehabilitation is to maintain as much muscle strength and joint range of motion as possible. Rehabilitation is as essential in animals as it is in humans. Dr. Knox will gladly work with you and your pet with rehabilitation even if you have the surgery with your regular veterinarian. He will make a point of working with your veterinarian to create the best plan and outcome for you. If you have any questions at all, feel free to give Companion Animal Health & Rehabilitation Center in Escondido, San Diego, CA a call (760) 743-2751 .