Cruciate Ligament tears are relatively common in dogs and Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) surgery can be an effective treatment. Our Union City vets explain everything you need to know about the procedure.

A Dog's Cranial Cruciate Ligament

The cranial cruciate ligament, found in a dog's knee, serves as a vital connection between the femur and tibia. This band of connective tissue enables the knee to function properly by facilitating movement between the bones located above and below the knee. The ligament is highly susceptible to injury.

Dogs and humans both experience similar ligament injuries. Just like dogs can rupture their cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), humans are also prone to ACL tears.

Dogs can experience a sudden rupture or a gradual tearing of their cruciate ligament, which can worsen over time until a complete rupture happens.

Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) Surgery

Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery is a more gentle approach compared to other surgical methods used for treating a torn CCL, like TPLO surgery (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy). 

During TTA surgery, the surgeon cuts and separates the front part of the tibia from the rest of the bone. Then, screw in a specialized orthopedic spacer to bridge the gap between the two sections of the tibia. This will effectively push the front section forward and upward. This action improves the alignment of the patellar ligament along the front of the knee, reducing abnormal sliding movement. After completing this process, a bone plate will be attached to properly secure the front section of the tibia.

Dogs with a steep tibial plateau often undergo Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery. The geometry of your dog's knee will be assessed by your veterinarian to determine if TTA surgery is the most suitable surgical treatment for your dog's torn CCL. 

What Does TTA Surgery for Dogs Involve?

Your veterinarian will start by assessing your dog's knee to determine the extent of the injury, its severity, and if Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery is the best option for your dog's treatment. Some tests and diagnostics your vet might conduct include:

  • X-rays of the stifle and tibia
  • Laboratory analysis of fluid drawn from the knee
  • Palpation (your dog may be sedated or given light anesthesia for this)

The surgery for your dog could be scheduled either on the same day as these tests or at a later date.

Anesthesia will be administered to your dog during their surgery, along with painkillers and antibiotics provided by your vet. Your dog's limb will be clipped from the level of their hip to the ankle. Before the surgery begins, a small cut or incision will be made in the knee to allow for inspection of its internal structures. We remove the damaged parts of the cartilage and trim any remaining ruptured ligaments.

After your pup's surgery, we will take X-rays to assess the angle of the top of the shin bone (tibial plateau) in relation to the patellar tendon and to examine the position of the implant. 

Your dog may receive a bandage after the surgery, and it is common for patients to be able to go home the day after their TTA procedure.

After Surgery Care

It may take several months for your dog to fully recover from their surgery, so it is crucial to carefully follow the post-operative care instructions provided by your vet. After your dog's surgery, the vet will send them home with a prescription for antibiotics and painkillers. Your dog may need to wear an Elizabethan collar while the incision site heals if they have a habit of licking their wound. 

Make sure to schedule a visit to your vet within the first few weeks after your dog's surgery. This will allow them to monitor the recovery process and take out any sutures if necessary. 

Restricting your dog's activity and movements to toiletry purposes only is crucial for their recovery. Keep them on a leash at all times to prevent running, climbing stairs, and jumping. Keep your pup in a small room or pen when they are off their leash to prevent these movements. You can gradually increase your dog's activity and movement after several weeks.

After approximately 6 to 8 weeks have gone by since your pooch's procedure you will have a follow-up appointment with your veterinarian. At this visit, your vet will monitor the function of your dog's leg, take X-rays to assess the healing of the cut bone, and provide you with advice about increasing your dog's daily activity. Additional tests and evaluations may be recommended based on your dog's individual case. 

The Benefits of TTA Surgery in Dogs

There are a handful of benefits for dogs that have their torn CCL treated with Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery including:

  • Increased range of motion in the knee
  • Faster healing time than with some other surgeries used to treat CCL tears
  • 90% surgery success rate
  • Dogs can return to their normal activities quicker

Risks of TTA Surgery

While the success rate is high and most dogs go on to make a smooth and complete recovery there are several complications associated with TTA surgery including:

  • Infections
  • Fractures
  • Loosening implants

In a small percentage of dogs who have had TTA surgery without any cartilage injury, there is a potential complication. These dogs may later tear their CCL and need a second surgery to remove the torn cartilage.

How much does TTA surgery cost for dogs?

The cost of TTA surgery for dogs can vary based on factors like the dog's size and the severity of the condition. Consulting with a veterinarian will provide you with an accurate estimate tailored to your dog's specific needs.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is limping inexplicably or you already know they have a ruptured cruciate ligament, contact our Union City vets to talk about treatment options or discuss whether TTA surgery is right for your dog.