One common knee injury we see in dogs is a cruciate ligament tear, which can be treated with Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery. In this post, our Carlsbad vets explain Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) surgery for dogs, its benefits and more.
A Dog's Cranial Cruciate Ligament
During Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery to treat a torn cranial cruciate ligament, the front area of the tibia is cut and separated from the rest of the bone before a special orthopedic spacer is screwed into the space between the tibia's two section. The front section is moved forward and up so the patellar ligament (which runs along the front of the nee) will be better aligned. Much of the abnormal sliding movement will be stopped.
Once this process is completed, a bone plate is placed to hold the front section of the tibia in its proper position.
This surgery is less invasive than other types of procedures used for the same purpose, such as TPLO surgery (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy). It is typically performed in dogs with a steep tibial plateau (angle of the top section of the tibia). Your veterinarian will check the geometry of your dog's knee to determine whether TTA surgery is the appropriate surgical treatment for your dog's torn CCL.
What does TTA surgery for dogs involve?
To begin, your veterinarian will examine your dog's knee to discover the extent of the injury and its severity. They will then decide whether Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery is the best option for treatment. Some tests and diagnostics your vet might do include:
- Palpation (your dog may be sedated or given light anesthesia for this)
- X-rays of the tibia and stifle
- Laboratory analysis of fluid drawn from the knee
Your dog's surgery may be booked the same day these tests are taken or at a later date.
Your pooch will be sedated with anesthesia before their surgery and given painkillers and antibiotics. The dog's limb will then be clipped from the level of their hip to the ankle. Before starting surgery, the vet will make a small incision or cut in the knee to see its internal structures.
The damaged portions of cartilage are then removed and any remaining ruptured ligaments will be trimmed.
X-rays will be taken at the end of your dog's surgery, so the angle of the top of the shin bone (tibial plateau) can be assessed in relation to the patellar tendon. The position of the implant will also be inspected.
Following surgery, your dog may be given a bandage. Patients can often return home the day after their TTA procedure.
After Surgery Care
Your dog's rehabilitation after their surgery may take several months and it's imperative to follow the post-operative care instructions your vet gives you carefully. Your vet will prescribe a course of antibiotics and painkillers at the time your dog is sent home after their surgery. If your dog has a habit of licking their wound they may also need to wear an Elizabethan collar while the incision site heals.
You will need to visit your vet during the first couple of weeks following your dog's surgery so they can check in on the recovery process, as well as remove any sutures.
It's imperative to your dog's recovery that you restrict their activity and movements, limiting it to toiletry purposes only. You must keep them on a leash to prevent any running, stair climbing, and jumping. When they are off of their leash you must keep your pup in a small room or pen to prevent these movements. After several weeks have passed you may gradually increase your dog's activity and movement.
After approximately 6 to 8 weeks have gone by since your pooch's procedure you will have a follow-up appointment with your veterinarian. At this visit, your vet will monitor the function of your dog's leg, take X-rays to assess the healing of the cut bone, and provide you with advice about increasing your dog's daily activity. Additional tests and evaluations may be recommended based on your dog's individual case.
The Benefits of TTA Surgery in Dogs
There are a handful of benefits for dogs that have their torn CCL treated with Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery including:
- Increased range of motion in the knee
- Faster healing time than with some other surgeries used to treat CCL tears
- 90% surgery success rate
- Dogs can return to their normal activities quicker
Risks of TTA Surgery
While the success rate is high and most dogs go on to make a smooth and complete recovery there are several complications associated with TTA surgery including:
- Loosening implants
Another possible complication occurs in a very small percentage of dogs that have undergone TTA surgery without having injured cartilage, where they later go on to tear their CCL and require a second surgical procedure to have the torn cartilage removed.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.