A tear of the cranial cruciate ligament is the most common acquired orthopedic injury in dogs, and it results in moderate to severe lameness of the rear leg. This is the same injury as a torn ACL in people. Current treatments involve stabilization of the knee using suture material (lateral suture technique), or bone cutting procedures that alter the conformation of the knee so that the dog no longer needs a cranial cruciate ligament, such as a TPLO or a TTA. The current techniques are prone to failure (suture techniques in large dogs) or have the potential for severe complications related to cutting of the bones.
A novel technique was developed by Dr. J Cook, professor of comparative orthopedics at the University Of Missouri College Of Veterinary Medicine in 2007. This technique involves the placement of a human suture system (Tightrope, from Arthrex) in the canine knee to stabilize the joint. This system can be placed in a minimally invasive fashion if arthroscopy is used to treat the injuries in the joint. Dr. Cook's initial studies demonstrated that the Tightrope system is a least equivalent to the TPLO in the large dog, and it has a lower complication rate.
Dr. Robert Cook, of Valley Veterinary Surgery, was part of the initial multi-center trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the Tightrope system and he has been performing the procedure since the fall of 2007, with well over 100 cases in the first year alone. The results have been very promising and Dr. Cook is now teaching the technique to other veterinarians around the country. The technique seems to be equivalent to TPLO in large dogs and can be performed in a minimally invasive fashion, the main benefits being less pain, less complications, better joint treatment, and faster recoveries. Most patients are discharged the same day as surgery.
Please call the clinic if you have any questions or are considering cruciate surgery for you pet and we will be happy to discuss the surgery further and see if your pet may be a candidate.