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What is Dog Cruciate (ACL) Surgery

Cruciate surgery is performed to repair a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) in the stifle (knee), which is same as the ACL in humans. CCL surgery is the most common orthopedic surgery performed in dogs and is said to make up 85% of all dog orthopedic surgeries performed every year. Given that this is such a common injury, several procedures have been developed over the years to repair the ligament. Each technique comes with its advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to discuss the options with your veterinarian to decide which procedure is best for your dog. Factors to consider when choosing the technique to repair your dog’s torn CCL include the patient’s age, weight, size, and lifestyle. The surgeon’s preference, as well as the cost of the procedure, are also factors to consider.

Lateral Suture also called Extracapsular (outside the joint) repair of the cruciate ligament is probably the oldest and the most commonly performed procedure performed to correct this injury. The goal of the surgery is to restore stability to the stifle (knee) by placing sutures outside of the joint. The cranial cruciate ligament is responsible for preventing the tibia from sliding forward and out from underneath the femur, and by placing artificial sutures outside the joint this external stabilization mimics the normal activity of the cranial cruciate ligament. For this surgery, a continuous monofilament (one fiber) nylon suture, similar to fishing line is placed around the fabellar bone of the femur and looped through a hole drilled into the tibial tuberosity. The two ends of the suture are then securely held in place using a stainless steel clip.

Additionally, rupturing the cranial cruciate ligament leads to instability in the knee, which can lead to damage to other structures within the joint, including meniscal tears. This is where appropriate diagnostics become important. Finding the extent of the injury will aid in choosing the correct procedure for your dog, and will increase the chances of a successful recovery.

**Source:, 2020

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