Want to find out exactly how a procedure or surgery works? We’ll be adding descriptions, links and more info below. So come back often!
These are a few different names a surgery that Dr. Zedwick specializes in. It is a common problem with dogs and unfortunately can be a “deal breaker” for many dog owners if they go to the wrong veterinarian. It’s a surgery that we’ve heard quoted for several thousand dollars by other veterinarians. At Columbia Veterinary Hospital, we strive to be as low cost as possible. Our cost for this surgery is only $500 plus medications!
One of our favorite resources for veterinary information is Veterinary Partner.
Here is an abbreviated version of how they describe the procedure:
The knee is a fairly complicated joint. It consists of the femur above, the tibia below, the kneecap (patella) in front, and the bean-like fabella behind. Chunks of cartilage called the medial and lateral menisci fit between the femur and tibia like cushions. An assortment of ligaments holds everything together, allowing the knee to bend the way it should and keep it from bending the way it shouldn’t.
There are two cruciate ligaments that cross inside the knee joint: the anterior (or, more correctly in animals, cranial) cruciate and the posterior (in animals, the caudal) cruciate. They connect from one side of the femur on top to the opposite side of the tibia on the bottom, the two ligaments forming an X (hence the name cruciate) inside the knee joint. They are named for their attachment site on the tibia (the cranial cruciate attaches to the front of the tibia and the caudal cruciate attaches to the back of the tibia). This may be hard to visualize based on the description but the illustration above shows the orientation of the two crossing ligaments effectively. The anterior/cranial cruciate ligament prevents the tibia from slipping forward out from under the femur.
The ruptured cruciate ligament is the most common knee injury of dogs; in fact, chances are that any dog with sudden rear leg lameness has a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament rather than something else. The history usually involves a rear leg suddenly so sore that the dog can hardly bear weight on it. If left alone, it will appear to improve over the course of a week or two but the knee will be notably swollen and arthritis will set in quickly. Dogs are often seen by the veterinarian in either the acute stage shortly after the injury or in the chronic stage weeks or months later.
Lateral placement of orthopedic wire. Radiograph by MarVistaVet.
Dr. Zedwick’s Lateral Sling Procedure
This procedure represents the traditional surgical repair for the cruciate rupture. It can be performed without specialized equipment and is far less invasive than other repair techniques. A large, strong suture is passed around the fabella behind the knee and through a hole drilled in the front of the tibia. This tightens the joint to prevent the drawer motion, effectively taking over the job of the cruciate ligament.
- Typically, the dog may carry the leg up for a good two weeks after surgery but will increase knee use over the next 2 months eventually returning to normal.
- Typically, the dog will require 8 to 12 weeks of exercise restriction after surgery (no running, outside on a leash only including the backyard).
- The suture placed will break 2 to 12 months after surgery and the dog’s own healed tissue will hold the knee.