Cruciate Ligament Tears

Cruiciate Ligament Tears

Cranial cruciate ligament tears are the most common orthopaedic injury we see affecting dogs (and some cats) knees. This can be an acute injury (traumatic – happens all of a sudden) or a chronic injury (has developed over time – usually a partial/minor tear occurrs as a lameness that resolves with pain relief initially but with time gets worse or reoccurs).

Dogs (and cats) will present with a limp in the affected hind leg. The injury is quite painful as it causes the knee joint to be unstable when they put weight on the leg. The degree of lameness (limp) will vary based on the extent of the injury.

The cranial cruciate ligament serves to keep the knee joint stable when the animal weight bears – diagnosis is achieved by feeling for laxity/instability in that joint with manual pressure or sometimes by manipulating the leg in a certain way – sometimes this is detectable during conscious examination however alot of the time sedation or a light anaesthesia is required to properly diagnose a cranial cruciate tear.  Radiographs will also help support the diagnosis and will inform us of any arthritic change already in the joint. Chronic instability increases the rate that arthritis will develop in the joint; acute injuries will not have any arthritic change.

Most dogs require surgical stabilisation of their knee joint inorder to prevent an ongoing limp in the affected leg and also to delay the progression of arthritis in the affected leg. More often than not, dogs will damage the other cranial cruciate ligament (in the other hind leg) within 18 months of the first leg.

If you are concerned your pet may have this injury please come and see us. 

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