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Orthopaedic Surgery

Extracapsular Cranial Cruciate Ligament Repair

Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tear is one of the most common injuries to the stifle (knee) of dogs. The injury is similar to the injury of the anterior cruciate ligament in people. The tear can be a complete rupture or a partial tear to the ligament. Once the ligament is torn a veterinarian might be able to get a positive drawer sign during the examination. A positive drawer sign is when you can move the top of the tibia in relation to the femur. This indicates cranial cruciate ligament disease. However sometimes to assess for a positive drawer sign we may need to sedate the dog to assess the ligament properly and radiographs may also be performed at this stage.

Common signs of cranial cruciate ligament tear:

  • Carrying one of the back legs or only walking on the three legs if severe or recent rupture
  • Reluctance to run and jump on all four legs
  • Limping or holding up a back leg after exercise
  • Pain when touching or manipulating the knee joint
  • Stiffness on one of the back legs after exercise or just getting up after lying down
  • Stiffness on one of the back legs during cold weather

There are several techniques to repair a dog’s torn CCL. Extracapsular cranial cruciate ligament repair is the oldest traditional surgical treatment for CCL ruptures. It is typically performed in smaller breed dogs, cats and inactive dogs. It is typically not recommended in young, active or large breed dogs.

This technique involves using a heavy nylon band and passing it on the outside of the joint and through a bone tunnel in the tibia (shin-bone) to stabilise the movement in the joint. Over time it allows scar formation to stabilise the knee while still allowing the normal movement of the joint.

Please contact the clinic and book an appointment to discuss whether this would be an appropriate treatment option for your pet. We can provide the estimate for the procedure during the consultation depending on the size of your pet and whether other diagnostic procedures such as x-rays are undertaken.