Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)
TPLO is currently one of the most common surgeries performed to treat canine cranial cruciate ligament (CCL or ACL) injuries. Now in existence for over 20 years, the surgery has proven to be an extremely effective long-term solution for addressing cruciate ligament injury in dogs. Initially created for large breed, active dogs, TPLO has proven equally effective in small to medium-sized breeds.
One of the important functions of the cruciate ligament is to prevent forward and backward sliding of the femur on the tibia, known as drawer motion or tibial thrust. When a dog stands, if you look from the side, the dog’s knee is bent, at a slight degree of flexion. Because of this bending, the ACL is always load-bearing in dogs, meaning it always holds tension. Because of the constant tension, this ligament is very susceptible to injury, and rupture of this ligament can lead to debilitating lameness.
TPLO surgery alters the dynamics of the knee. TPLO removes the backwards slant of the tibia, which changes the way the quadriceps muscle pulls on the tibia, and allows the muscle to assume the job of the torn ACL. This results in the knee being stabilized, and eliminates the need for the ACL ligament entirely. TPLO surgery should always be performed by a specialized board-certified surgeon (reference American College of Veterinary Surgeons).
TPLO surgery, compared to other techniques, offers the following:
- a more rapid recovery
- better range of motion of the joint
- development of less arthritis
- faster return to athletic or working activity
The first three months following TPLO surgery are a critical period for recovery and rehabilitation. With rest, paired with the certain exercises introduced at the proper time, you can assist your dog’s healing and improve his or her road to rehabilitation.