The rupture of the cruciate ligament is the most common knee injury in dogs, and most commonly occurs in young, athletic dogs and older, overweight dogs with weakened ligaments.

Diagnosing RCL

Your veterinarian will perform an orthopedic exam and take x-rays in order to diagnose the problem. The orthopedic exam involves an analysis of the gait, examination of the joint for swelling and/or pain and the presence of “drawer movement”, forward instability of the knee joint. Sedation is often required to do an adequate evaluation of the knee, especially in large dogs becuase it prevents the pet from tensing the muscles and temporarily stabilizing the joint and preventing the demonstration of the drawer sign. X-RaysIf  confirm inflammatory changes in the joint and establish the level of osteoarthritic changes present.

Surgical repair

Surgical repair is recommended in most cases to stabilize the joint and prevent further damage. There are three primary types of surgical repair:

  •  Intracapsular
  •  Extracapsular
  •  Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO)

The type of surgical repair will be determined by the size, age, and activity level of the pet as well as the degree of osteoarthritis already present in the joint. The recovery time and recommendation for physical therapy will depend on the type of surgical repair performed.

If you suspect your dog has ruptured a ligament, seek veterinary care at our westside Santa Cruz animal hospital today.