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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just spent a couple of hours at the vet and need some advice. I've got a 7 year old male (85 lbs) that's been showing some age in his back legs. Slow to get moving in the morning and an occasional limp after playing ball. Three days ago he went lame in his left rear leg and won't put any weight on it. He will ocassionally toe the ground. After a few days of crate rest, I took him to the vet, who sedated him and tested for a torn/ruptured CCL. Also did X-rays. Turns out vet feels he has a partial tear and wants to operate. Is there any chance I can avoid the surgery and let the injury "heal" with proper rest and pain meds? He is an indoor dog who at his age would rather lounge all day so rest is definitely plausible. What is the prognosis for older dogs who don't receive the surgery? I will do whatever is best for him, but want to do the most conservative option and avoid surgery if I can.

I'd appreciate any feedback, especially from those who have personal experience with this.
 

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If a vet says he needs surgery then why are you trying to avoid it? Because of money? He's only 7 and still has much more life to live so why not give him the quality he deserves? If it was a sprain you could crate rest and it would most likely heal but this is a tear that needs mending. I know people who have had acl tears or partial tears and needed surgery to repair it so I'd do the same for my dog ;) JMO. Did you bring your question up to your vet about just resting it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
No, definitely not a money issue. I was quoted $2000 for the surgery. So a lot of money, but I have that in savings. I know a pet can be expensive and am prepared to spend what I need.

I was just curious to hear other's experiences and what my best course of action should be. I know the surgery helps in over 90% of dogs but not sure of the non-surgical recovery success.
 

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Ligament tears don't 'heal' per se. However, there are protocols you can follow (you will find them under the conservative Management link posted above) that consist of VERY restricted activity and a regimen of specific exercises. The goal of these exercises is to build up the scar tissue surrounding the joint, thus providing support for the joint. The old Traditional repair followed a similar concept, but used surgically placed high test filament to stabilize the joint. They make braces to help during this process.
That is your non-surgical option. Then you have your surgical options. Traditional (probably not recommended in a dog of your dogs size and age) a TPLO (which actually changes the angles of the knee, preventing forward slippage of the femur over the tibia (hence the name, Tibial plane leveling operation) This is a rather invasive procedure involving sawing of bones and insertion of plates. There is also the newer TTA, but I am not familiar with that option, since it wasn't on the table when my boy went through this, so I did no research on it.
The Orthodog site is invaluable. They are VERY helpful and will let you sort out your options with no pressure.
Good luck. I feel your pain. I have had two dogs with this issue (both legs!). One I had repaired surgically and one I didn't. The non-surgical dog is extremely arthritic in both knees and takes pain meds. The surgical dog has no ill effects, takes no meds and, even though he is older than the other dog, still competes in Obedience. But that's just his experience. I've seen surgically repaired dogs who are at the same level as my girl.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the detailed response. Very informative reads. After consulting with the DVM and the tech who does dog rescue, we're going to try the Conservative Management prior to surgery. It's going to be a month before I can get the surgery scheduled with the ortho. In the meantime, CM will be utilized for the pain comfort of my boy . My goal is to get him back to 100% and pain free using the least invasive method. If rest and therapy dont show results, I've got the surgery as a backup. It also looks as if the surgery may lessen arthritis pain in the future? He is already showing arthritis (X-Rays) in his lame leg.

Ligament tears don't 'heal' per se. However, there are protocols you can follow (you will find them under the conservative Management link posted above) that consist of VERY restricted activity and a regimen of specific exercises. The goal of these exercises is to build up the scar tissue surrounding the joint, thus providing support for the joint. The old Traditional repair followed a similar concept, but used surgically placed high test filament to stabilize the joint. They make braces to help during this process.
That is your non-surgical option. Then you have your surgical options. Traditional (probably not recommended in a dog of your dogs size and age) a TPLO (which actually changes the angles of the knee, preventing forward slippage of the femur over the tibia (hence the name, Tibial plane leveling operation) This is a rather invasive procedure involving sawing of bones and insertion of plates. There is also the newer TTA, but I am not familiar with that option, since it wasn't on the table when my boy went through this, so I did no research on it.
The Orthodog site is invaluable. They are VERY helpful and will let you sort out your options with no pressure.
Good luck. I feel your pain. I have had two dogs with this issue (both legs!). One I had repaired surgically and one I didn't. The non-surgical dog is extremely arthritic in both knees and takes pain meds. The surgical dog has no ill effects, takes no meds and, even though he is older than the other dog, still competes in Obedience. But that's just his experience. I've seen surgically repaired dogs who are at the same level as my girl.
 

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I was in a similar situation a little over a year ago; however we did not have x-rays done. No one suggested doing them, the partial CCL tear was dx by manipulation alone.

In our case the injury was not bad, limited limping after rest or exercise then walking...seemingly normally.

Everyone I talked with, who was not a vet insisted she would need surgery. My vet, actually insisted she would need surgery and gave me (what I personally believe was an idiotic piece of advice) which was to keep her in agility, let her do whatever she wanted until the ligament fully tore and then do the surgery. :confused:

Anyway, I found the 2 yahoo groups mentioned extremely helpful. Really wanted to avoid surgery if possible, because in our case the injury seemed so...minor...and having nothing to do with cost, the awareness that all surgical procedures come with there own set of risks...so while surgery is often times absolutely necessary...that doesn't mean you take it lightly either (imo).

I made an appointment with a surgeon for a consult and luckily got a very conservative surgeon. He actually recommended against surgery, said there was a 50% chance we could heal the leg without surgery and he thought we should give it a shot. I should add, one thing in Veronica's favor was she weighed about 55 pounds and we took her down to 50 - I do remember him saying that in his opinion with large dogs, surgery was generally necessary.

We followed the conservative management protocol. If I recall with Veronica it was a full 6 months before she was allowed to run, and then that was very limited running. She was housebound for several months, because if we took her outside she would see...something...like a squirrel or another dog and pull; or just try to run because she was so pent up. We ended up using a treadmill and having her do indoor cavaletti exercises to give her limited exercise and build her up before it was safe to let her go outside again. We also used pain meds, but very short term, only a couple of weeks in the beginning and then as needed in a very limited capacity...tried to keep the focus on avoiding her needing them.

We also put her on and kept her on supplements - glucosamine/chondroitin w/ an omega 3 fatty acid; which I think are good even if you do require surgery.

A little over a year later - Veronica is fine and back to her old self (she is 6 now). She has always been an incredibly lazy dog, so I don't know if that would be the case if she were more energetic and athletic. I took her out of agility because I didn't want to take any chances (and because she hated it and only did it for me anyway).

When she had her annual physical in June her vet (who had insisted she would need surgery) said from just a general, feeling around exam...she couldn't tell which leg it was that had been hurt. :thumbsup:

Good luck with everything! I remember when we were dealing with it I was an absolute nervous wreck - wanting to make the right decision and being confronted w/ multiple options.
 
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