The Canine Cranial Cruciate Ligament

The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) is an important ligament inside the knee (stifle) joints of dogs. The ligament plays an important role in stabilizing the stifle during weight-bearing. It prevents the shin bone (tibia) moving forward relative to the thigh bone (femur). Cranial cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common orthopedic injuries in dogs and is the most common cause of degenerative joint disease in the stifle joint. CCL ruptures occur in dogs of all sizes, but are most prevalent in large and giant breeds.

CCL Tears are the Most Common Canine Orthopedic Injury
NorthStar VETS sees hundreds of patients each year with unilateral, bilateral and partial cranial cruciate tear (CCL) injuries. When the CCL ruptures, dogs will have stifle (knee) joint instability characterized by forward movement of the tibia with respect to the femur and excessive internal rotation.

There have been numerous techniques used to repair CCL ruptures in dogs over the years. The most common repairs performed today are divided into two categories: extracapsular repairs and bone-cutting techniques.

What is the Best Surgical Option for my Pet?
There are many decisions pet parents must make regarding surgical options. Some factors to consider and discuss with your surgeon are: patient’s age, breed, size, and general health, as well as athletic condition, finances, home environment, and additional health issues.

In general, bone-cutting techniques like the Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) are preferred for larger dogs as they provide patients with a very strong repair and a much earlier return to function. Bone-cutting procedures require special X-rays, implants, and are a more extensive orthopedic alternative.

Your veterinary surgeon will guide you to the CCL repair technique best suited for your pet. Learn more about orthopedic options at NorthStar VETS.

Barri Sarowitz, VMD, DACVSBarri Sarowitz, VMD, DACVS
Having grown up in south Jersey, Dr. Sarowitz is excited to join the surgery team at NorthStar VETS. Dr. Sarowitz obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Cornell University in 2007. She moved to Philadelphia and worked as a veterinary technician for a year before completing veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. After graduating, Dr. Sarowitz completed a rotating internship at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls, NJ. Following her internship, she completed a three-year residency in surgery at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in 2016. Her surgical interests include surgical oncology, minimally invasive surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, and wound management. She is trained in the tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) and lateral extracapsular suture techniques for cranial cruciate ligament disease. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and football.

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