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Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

Image of dog jumping and catching a frisbee at the park.

The rupture of the cruciate ligament is the most common knee injury in the dog.

This injury has two common presentations. One is the young athletic dog playing roughly who acutely ruptures the ligament and is non-weight bearing on the affected hind leg. The second presentation is the older, overweight dog with weakened or partially torn ligaments that rupture with a slight misstep. In this patient the lameness may be acute or there may be more subtle chronic lameness related to prolonged joint instability.

Your veterinarian will perform an orthopedic exam and take radiographs (x-rays) in order to diagnose this injury. The orthopedic exam involves an analysis of the gait, examination of the joint for swelling and/or pain and the presence of "drawer movement" (the presence of forward instability of the knee joint). Sedation is often required to do an adequate evaluation of the knee, especially in large dogs. Sedation prevents the pet from tensing the muscles and temporarily stabilizing the joint and preventing the demonstration of the drawer sign. Radiographs confirm inflammatory changes in the joint and establish the level of osteoarthritic changes present.

Surgical repair is recommended in most cases to stabilize the joint and prevent further osteoarthritic changes secondary to the joint instability. There are three primary types of surgical repair: intracapsular, extracapsular, and tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO). The type of surgical repair will be determined by the size, age and activity level of the pet as well as the degree of osteoarthritis already present in the joint. The recovery time and recommendation for physical therapy will depend on the type of surgical repair performed.

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Monday:

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* Sunday is for pick-up and drop-off of boarders ONLY

Testimonials

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  • "I want to thank the staff at Occoquan Animal Hospital, especially Dr. Morse and Dr. Farge for the care you provided to my dog, Cocoa, for the past 13 years. From the day we brought him in for his first check up when he was only about 4 to 6 months old, until that final breath he took under the loving hands of Dr. Farge, we will always value the exceptional care he received by the staff at Occoquan Animal Hospital during these 13 years."
    Karen G.
  • "I love this place. The doctors and staff really show they care about the health of your pets. They are honest and will not try to make you pay for unnecessary treatments just to make money. I've trusted them with all my animals for as long as I can remember. I won't go anywhere else."
    Vicki S.
  • "This is the first Vet hospital that I have ever been to that really cares about the animals and the owners more than the amount of money they can charge. I love the way they treat my dogs as if they are the only animals on earth. I come from Fairfax for their good service. This will be where my little buddies will go as long as we are in VA. The best."
    Theresa B.