A torn CCL isn’t enough to stop this canine

By: Dr. Keith True from Animal Care Center

If you have any knowledge of Chicago Bull’s basketball, you have probably heard of a torn ACL. You’ve probably heard about Derrick Rose and how he tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) two years ago in the playoffs, underwent two knee surgeries, and really hasn’t played much ever since. Now, I bet your wondering what this has to deal with veterinary medicine?! Well, ACL injuries, while common amount human athletes, is a very common injury in our canine patients too. While the cause in humans is primarily due to sports injury, the causes in dogs are usually due to a gradual degenerative process. In fact, if a dog tears one ACL (called a CCL, cranial cruciate ligament in a dog), there is a 50/50 chance of them tearing the other ligament in their other knee. This brings me to this week’s, Case of the Week!

Macy Jo is a 9 year old German Shorthaired Pointer. Macy is a young-at-heart hunting dog that resides in Springfield, IL. One day, while running around in the yard, Macy came up limping in her left rear leg. She was not touching her foot to the ground. Later on that day, Macy Jo visited the veterinarian where a series of testing was done. Severe instability was felt on physical examination of her left knee (called a stifle in our pets). X-rays of the left knee were taken, and arthritis was noted in that joint as well. This is a common side effect of an ongoing, progressive CCL injury. Macy Jo’s owner was given a couple surgical options, but the one that was selected is known as the TPLO. TPLO stands for tibial plateau leveling osteotomy. The goal of this surgery is to change the biomechanics of the knee so that the ruptured CCL no longer is needed to stabilize the knee while bearing weight on the affected limb. This is our preferred way of correcting ruptured CCL’s in larger dogs.


Macy Jo came all the way from Springfield, IL to our offices at Animal Care Center to have this procedure performed! Surgery is completed by actually cutting the tibia (equivalent of our shin), rotating the cut fragment, thus changing the angle of the tibial plateau. A bone plate is then applied to the cut bone to stabilize it until it heals. This is a very advanced surgery, but is an excellent way of fixing this problem! After surgery, Macy Jo recovered well. She was cage rested for 8 weeks following surgery to allow for appropriate bone healing. She she can resume normal activity. After primary bone healing has been completed, a total of about 12 weeks of physical therapy and rehabilitation is necessary prior to returning to normal function. In addition, it is recommended that these patients lose some weight too, which can help with the effects of arthritis. We are happy to say, that Macy Jo has dropped 12 pounds since her injury, and is a much happier dog today! Her injury is well on the way to recovery, and with her recent weight loss has plenty of new-found energy!