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What is TPLO Surgery in Dogs?

It’s quiet in the Operating Room as Dr. Bone concentrates on surgery.  I can hear the beeps of the anesthesia workstation as the anesthetist checks both the machine and the patient throughout surgery.  The room is chilly and the sun shines through the high windows of the room.  Dr. Bone is performing a TPLO surgery on a newfoundland.  If you’re not familiar with the veterinary world or the surgery world, you may be wondering what is TPLO surgery?

What is TPLO Surgery in Dogs?

TPLO surgery is essentially a treatment for CCL ruptures.  CCL stands for Cranial Cruciate Ligament and is the tough band of tissue that connects the bones {tibia and femur} at the knee.  When the CCL ruptures, it causes the femur to slip off the surface of the tibia. The slipping and shifting of these bones causes the dogs a lot of pain. The main purpose of TPLO surgery is to correct the angle of the tibia to reduce the amount of slipping during movement. 

TPLO stands for tibial plateau leveling osteotomy {removing a piece of bone}.  The surgeon cuts a semi-circle of bone from the top of the tibia, rotates it and moves it slightly forward and then reconnects the pieces with a bone plate.  This creates a longer and more level “landing strip” for the femur to sit on, reducing the amount of slipping and stress between the bones. Think of it this way, the surgeon is essentially leveling the ground so that the femur doesn’t fall off of a hill and cause injury.

What are Signs of CCL Ruptures? 

CCL ruptures are common in active or larger dogs.  You may notice that your dog is having trouble walking or in major pain. Sometimes you can hear crackling at the knee when the two bones are grinding against each other. Your dog may start to experience swelling or may even begin to sit with an extended hind leg.  If you notice any of these things be sure to see your veterinarian as soon as you can.  CCL ruptures can cause long term damage such as osteoarthritis.

Patients healing from TPLO surgery can sometimes walk as quickly as 24 hours post-surgery although most take around 2 weeks.  Full recovery can take up to 6 months.  To learn more about our Surgery Department at IndyVet, click here.

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