Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture

What is it?

If the cranial cruciate ligament is stretched, or partially or completely torn, it will result in the tibia sliding forwards causing the knee to wobble whenever weight is placed on the leg. This is a painful condition that can cause arthritis and can tear cartilage (meniscus).  A cruciate ligament injury is debilitating.

What Causes It?

Trauma is one cause, such as getting hit by a car or experiencing a major fall.

Also, degeneration is another cause. The ligament slowly weakens in such a way that it can tear with normal activity. In most cases the source of degeneration is arthritis although subtle bony deformities can contribute to wear and tear. Degeneration is usually present in both knees. For this reason a cruciate tear can happen in the other knee at some time in the future.

How do we diagnose it? 

  1. Hind limb lameness
  2. Swollen knee (this can be subtle in early cases)
  3. Thickened tissue on the inside of the knee joint especially in chronic cases.
  4. Knee wobbles backwards and forwards when palpated by a vet. Sometimes sedation or general anaesthesia is required to demonstrate this.

How can it be fixed?

The goal of surgery is to stabilise the knee joint with a prosthetic ligament replacement and repair any cartilage tears.

Surgery is recommended for all dogs but some small dogs less than 15kg can improve with strict rest, weight loss and arthritis treatment.

Specialist Surgery is also available  where the knee can be reconstructed so that NO cruciate ligament is required. 

Post Operative Care:

A thick bandage is used for 5 days postoperatively and the sutures are removed at 10-14 days. A four week course of weekly Zydax injections are recommended starting at suture removal. These injections target the arthritic changes in the knee and may need to be repeated yearly.  Strict rest is necessary for 4-6 weeks to ensure the knee has healed sufficiently before a gradual reintroduction to on-lead exercise. The aim is to slowly improve the mobility and strength of the knee to allow normal limits of activity. Most dogs shouldn’t go back to athletic activities such as ball chasing. Weight loss may also be necessary.

If you have any further questions feel free to contact us.

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