If your dog partially or fully tore its ACL (technically CCL), then chances are your dog will need surgery to fix it. A torn ACL will not heal on its own, though a minor sprain will not need surgery. The limb will stabilize over time thanks to scar tissue, but it’s not a true heal.
If your dog undergoes surgery, your vet should brief you on the procedure beforehand. But if you’re curious and want to know an overview of it, just in case, we at Doggy Brace got you covered. Here is a breakdown of the two most common ACL surgical options and their price ranges.
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, or TPLO, is the most common surgical option to repair a torn ACL. It is especially common for larger breeds of dogs — those over 30 pounds — and is highly invasive. It changes the slope of the tibial plateau to alter the stifle joint and allow for improved function and less strain.
In English? Your dog’s tibia and femur (lower and upper leg bone, respectively), are connected by their knee and a ligament called the CCL (which is commonly referred to as an ACL, which is why we’re calling it that). Dogs leg bones are always sitting on each other at a slant. A TPLO makes that slant flatter.
Still with us? This is where it gets a little gross/medical, so if you’re squeamish, you may want to skip ahead two paragraphs. A surgeon will accomplish this by cutting the tibial plateau to relevel the bone and then attach it back with metal hardware.
The surgeon will also evaluate the meniscus, which is cartilage around the ACL. It often gets damaged during an ACL injury too. If it is torn, the surgeon will remove any damaged parts of the meniscus. If the meniscus is not damaged, the surgeon performs a meniscal release to help prevent it from being damaged in the future.
If you didn’t read the last two paragraphs, here’s the gist of what you missed: TPLO surgery helps to stabilize your dog’s back leg and reduces the likelihood of further osteoarthritis progression.
Recovering from TPLO Surgery
The surgeon will take x-rays after the procedure is complete to ensure that the bone angle and the new metal plates and positioning are looking good and function as they should. If everything checks out, they’ll close the wound and put a bandage over it.
This surgery usually requires an overnight stay in the hospital. During the procedure, your pet will be under a general anesthesia. The hospital will also administer painkillers and antibiotics to prevent infections.
If you want a full breakdown of how to help your pet recover after an ACL surgery, check out our past blog on the topic!
Cost of a TPLO Surgery
This type of surgery requires a specialty surgeon and prices vary based on location. The average cost is anywhere between $3,500 and $5,500.
Tibial Tuberosity Advancement, or TTA, is the second most common surgical repair for torn ACLs. It is significantly less expensive than TPLO.
The TTA procedure is more commonly performed in dogs with a steep tibial plateau. It is almost identical to a TPLO surgery. The biggest difference is that TTA moves the tibial tuberosity (the sloped part of your leg that sticks out just below the kneecap) to minimize bad movement.
Instead of re-sloping the bone and placing bone plates, TTA separates part of the bone from the rest of the tibia to control how the leg moves with the ACL.
Now, here’s the medical stuff: The front part of the tibia is cut and separated from the rest of the bone. An orthopedic spacer is screwed between them to move the patellar ligament (the thick fibrous band in the knee) into better alignment to stop some abnormal movement. A bone plate is then attached to hold the front section of the tibia.
Recovery from a TTA Surgery
Dogs usually recover from a TTA surgery pretty quickly. In fact, most pups start walking on their injured leg within 24 hours after it! They are generally putting most of their weight on their leg after 2 weeks and by 10 weeks, they should be walking normally.
Just because this surgery has a fast recovery time, does not mean you should allow your dog to run or play like normal after a couple of weeks! Continue to restrict their movement and playtime until your vet says it’s okay.
Cost of TTA Surgery
Like with a TPLO, costs vary depending on where you live. The average cost is around $2,200-$2,500.
Why Would I Put My Dog Through That?
We know that both options sound intense and invasive, but surgery is the only way your dog’s leg will recover. It will help prevent further injury from weight shifts, strengthen their leg, and help prevent arthritis in the long run.
It will also help your dog feel better in the long run. While they may be down for a couple weeks when they’re recovering, know that a surgery is giving them a lifetime of carefree running and playing. Without it, your dog’s leg will never be as strong or as stable due to the scar tissue that formed over the tear.
But the choice is up to you. After all, your dog can live a long life with or without an ACL surgery. It’s just all about what you feel is right for you and your four-legged companion.