Knee Surgeries – Crucial Injury or ACL Tear
The most common orthopedic surgeries are from knee problems – injuries to the Cranial Cruciate ligament (CCL) or from patellar (knee-cap) problems (Medial Patellar Luxation or MPL).
Many people are familiar with Anterior Cruciate Ligament — the ACL. It is the most common knee injury to athletes. It is also the most common injury in dogs. CCL is the same as ACL in people, but in dogs it’s called the CCL because they walk on all 4 limbs. Cruciate injury in dogs involves a combination of genetics, breed, activity level and body weight.
Unfortunately, the story is all too common that after playing or exercise the owner notices a small to significant limp on the hind limb. The limping may be persistent, or, after some time, the limping can get better but often will return in a couple days to weeks after activity. Limping in dogs is a sign of discomfort and pain. Most dogs do not cry or show pain other than limping or carrying the affected leg. There are some tests we can perform on examination that can help us diagnose if there is an cruciate tear or if there is another cause for limping such as arthritis or joint infection. Diagnosis is best performed by orthopedic physical exam and radiographs.
The picture to the left is a diagram of how we diagnose cruciate ligament rupture. We palpate for tibial thrust, or drawer movement. When the ligament is intact, the knee is stable, there is no movement. When the ligament has ruptured or is rupturing, there is forward “drawer” movement or instability palpated.