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Luxating Patella Repair

What Is Luxating Patella?

Patella luxation is one of the most common orthopaedic conditions in dogs. It is also known as luxating patella. The term luxating means ‘out of place’ or dislocated, hence in this condition kneecap can move out of its normal location. The owners might notice a skip in their dog’s step with one of the back legs and then suddenly they are back walking normally on all four legs.

The luxation is often to the inside of the groove of the kneecap but can rarely be towards the outside of the groove. This condition generally occurs in dogs but is also rarely seen in cats. Patella luxation most commonly affects small breed dogs where the kneecap moves inwards. However it can occur in large breed dogs as well. Most commonly affected breeds are Pomeranian, Maltese, Poodles, Cavaliers, Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas.

Common signs of luxating patella:

  • Occasional limping or skipping on one of the back legs
  • Carrying one of the back legs or only walking on the three legs if severe
  • Dogs affected might be bow legged
  • Reluctance to run and jump on all four legs
Grading of patella luxation:


Grade I-The kneecap sits in the groove but can be moved out of the joint with pressure applied to kneecap
Grade II- The kneecap can suddenly move out of the groove but can return to position with the movement of the knee.
Grade III- The kneecap is mostly sitting out of the groove but can be returned to normal position with pressure applied to the knee cap
Grade IV-Kneecap is out permanently and cannot be returned to the groove

Risks and Surgery:


Dogs with grade 1 usually don’t require any surgery unless overtime they progressively get worse and progress to grade 2,3 and so forth. Overtime, movement of the kneecap in and out of the groove can cause cartilage wear and tear and lead to arthritis. Most dogs with grade 1 patella luxation can be managed with occasional pain relief and rest.

If your pet is having recurrent lameness issues with this condition that are minimally or unresponsive to medical intervention or if they have higher grade of this disease they most likely will require surgical correction.

Surgical correction can involve:

- Deepening the groove of the kneecap (Wedge trochleoplasty)
- Tying of the tissues around the joint on opposite direction of the knee luxation (imbrication)
- Release of the tissues on the side of the luxation (fascial release)
- Moving of the attachment of the patella ligament to the tibia (tibial tuberosity transposition)

All of these operations are performed at Tarneit Veterinary Clinic, depending on the specific situation and the grade/severity of the ailment. Please contact the clinic to find more information on the procedure and costing for the surgery.