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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off I need to say that this is an amazing site with so much useful information. Wish I had discovered it under different circumstances...

So my wife and I were at the beach this past weekend playing fetch with our Dobe Maya. After a few good runs she came back with a new three legged trot. After our trip to the vet today it appears she has a torn CCL (ACL in humans), and of course the recommendation is surgery.

My background is Orthopedic Sales (total joints) and I spend most of my days in the operating room. I know all about the human knee, and the complications that can arise from trauma, failed procedures, etc... After researching surgical options I'm concerned about the TPLO and TAA as these are fairly invasive procedures, the thought of making an osteotomy on Maya's tibia scares the heck out of me!

I realize there are those that have had the surgery with positive results, while some (albeit a small percentage) have had some complications. There is also the camp of people that choose to go the more conservative route and also acheive good results.

I would like to think I'm for the more conservative approach first, and surgery in that fails. Cost isn't so much a factor, but I don't want to put Maya through surgery when a non-operative option would have worked just as well. At this point I'm taking Maya in tomorrow morning for x-rays which will eliminate some other potential problems. Our vet gave us some Tramadol for her pain, is there anything else we should be doing or asking for? I've seen some recomendations for injections but can't remember the name. What about knee brace types? Maya is 4 years old.

These dogs have a way of pulling on your heart strings when they don't feel well. Both my wife an I have shed some tears over the past 24 hours... I know this is a super long post but just want to make sure I do the best for my girl. Thanks for any insight, we appreciate it!
 

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I don't know much about this type of injury but just wanted to say welcome and good luck! Hopefully someone else can chime in with some info for you. Hugs to your sweet girl!
 

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My only personal experience with cruciate ligament tears was with a dog who was not a surgical candidate (she injured herself when she was almost at the end of her battle with lymphoma), so the issue was managed but not addressed.

I know lots of folks with dogs with torn ligaments, though, and the stories are very frequently the same: they hear about conservative management, keep their dog crated/leashed/quiet for months, dog is "sooo much better!", allow a bit of freedom, announce the dog has "re-injured" the knee, go back to no-life confinement for the dog for some more months, allow a bit of freedom, dog "overdoes it" (i.e. does some normal dog thing) and is back to being a tripod, folks finally opt for surgery. It is a crappy year or two for the dog, who isn't allowed to do anything and goes nuts and then gets surgery, anyway. Plus, the delay of surgery pretty much guarantees that the arthritis will be earlier and more severe. If anyone tells you how great conservative management has worked for their dog, ask them 1) when the dog was injured and 2) what degree of activity the dog is allowed. If the dog was injured within the last year, their opinion probably doesn't count... their dog is probably going to regress when allowed full activity. If it has been over a year and the dog is still restricted, consider that it may be a quality-of-life issue... my dog would sooner commit suicide than be confined for a year or more.

The other thing is that, having blown the one knee, your dog is now at higher risk for blowing the other. Think about TWO blown cruciate ligaments...

My suggestion would be to find yourself a good orthopedic surgeon who does lots and lots of these procedures with good results, and just get it over with.
 

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For large dogs, I think the treatment IS surgery....it's very hard to keep them from reinjuring the damaged knee...partial tears can heal in small dogs...is the way I hear it, but not done easily in large breeds.

p
 

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I know lots of folks with dogs with torn ligaments, though, and the stories are very frequently the same: they hear about conservative management, keep their dog crated/leashed/quiet for months, dog is "sooo much better!", allow a bit of freedom, announce the dog has "re-injured" the knee, go back to no-life confinement for the dog for some more months, allow a bit of freedom, dog "overdoes it" (i.e. does some normal dog thing) and is back to being a tripod, folks finally opt for surgery. It is a crappy year or two for the dog, who isn't allowed to do anything and goes nuts and then gets surgery, anyway. Plus, the delay of surgery pretty much guarantees that the arthritis will be earlier and more severe. If anyone tells you how great conservative management has worked for their dog, ask them 1) when the dog was injured and 2) what degree of activity the dog is allowed. If the dog was injured within the last year, their opinion probably doesn't count... their dog is probably going to regress when allowed full activity. If it has been over a year and the dog is still restricted, consider that it may be a quality-of-life issue... my dog would sooner commit suicide than be confined for a year or more.

The other thing is that, having blown the one knee, your dog is now at higher risk for blowing the other. Think about TWO blown cruciate ligaments...

My suggestion would be to find yourself a good orthopedic surgeon who does lots and lots of these procedures with good results, and just get it over with.
Agreed. And we've had too many stories on here about the failure of the tightrope procedure.

My GSD had TPLO surgery last September. While it is a slow recovery, he can run, jump and be an arse again. So far, no problems with the second knee.

An orthopedic specialist can get you a great surgeon, you need to get the best. And you need to follow the recovery procedure precisely.
 

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I do not have personal experience with this but I work with a guy who has 2 boxers and 2 putbulls. Both of his boxers have had this surgery, one of them torn her ACl in one leg, had the surgery and doesnt even have a limp - completely back to normal, could never tell. The other boxer has had 2 ACL surgerys, with the most recent about 6 weeks ago. After the first surgery on her, she had only a small limp, barely could tell but they dont know yet after this 2nd surgery on her, how it will affect her.
 
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my only recommendation is to take her to a board certified surgeon (vs having your regular vet do the surgery).

Good Luck !!
 

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I don't have any experience with the surgery, but I have kind of a unique perspective. We recently adopted Simon, and he's eight. My vet strongly suspects that he had an ACL injury as a young dog that was left untreated (or treated conservatively, with no surgery). He definitely has issues with that leg and knee as an older dog. After a longer walk or too much running around the yard, his leg begins to tremble. He also gets more stiff on that side. Seeing him in some pain and not able to do everything he wants to makes me wish his prior owners had treated the injury when it occurred.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, I wanted to update the group on our situation. We had Maya x-rayed to rule out some other possibilities and while under anesthesia the vet did the drawer test and found that there indeed was a tear of the CCL. After doing loads of research on our options and talking with other pet owners, some who've had the surgery performed on their dog, we've decided to give Conservative Management a legitimate shot.

So our plan is to work diligently with CM for 6-8 weeks and see what types of improvement is noted. If it seems to be steadily improving then we will continue CM with and slowly work up to a more active lifestyle. I'm trying to approach this in a way that I would if it was me with the torn ACL, and what path I would take for myself. I don't think surgery is able to fix everything, although in some cases it may be the only option. Also, if anyone has experience with CM I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences. In the meantime we'll continue to educate ourselves on the types of surgical options available if we need to go that route in the end.

So now my questions are what types of medication should we be giving Maya for her knee. At the moment we have some pain med's, but I don't think they double as an anti-inflammatory. We do already give her fish oil (which she loves and thinks are treats), and I've ready somewhere about certain injections although I can't remember the specific med.

I want to say thanks to everyone who's replied for their input, we greatly appreciate it!
 

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Just cruising on orthodogs today and it would appear that CM is generally 6 months to a year to have any significant results. Hard for me to imagine personally.

Good luck.
 

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Have not ever had the problem but have seen a ACL Brace in Dog Fancy int the advertisement section of the magazine.Good Luck, Hugs.
 
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