The most common orthopedic injury in dogs is a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). Every year, the orthopedic surgery team at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital performs hundreds of tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomies (TPLO) to stabilize the stifle joint after CCL rupture.
Now there is a relatively new, and minimally-invasive, alternative for young dogs with CCL injuries. Recently, Dr. Wendy Baltzer performed a proximal tibial epiphysiodesis (PTE) on a six month-old Golden Retriever named Sydan.
Sydan had been experiencing chronic lameness in his right hind leg for several weeks. Dr. Ruth Loomis at the Brookswood Animal Clinic in Bend took radiographs, diagnosed a CCL rupture, and referred Sydan’s owner to the VTH. Because of his age, Dr. Baltzer decided he was a good candidate for a PTE. “This surgery is specifically for immature dogs with open growth plates who have ruptured their cranial cruciate ligament,” she says.
Using tiny incisions, and a fluoroscope for guidance, Dr. Baltzer inserted a lag screw into the most proximal part of the tibial plateau, in its medio-lateral center, aiming into the tibial shaft. As the caudal aspect of Sydan’s growth plate continues to grow around the screw, it will alter the slope of the tibia, creating a more stable joint.
Sydan went home on six weeks of exercise restriction to allow healing, and his owner was given a set of passive, range-of-motion exercises to do with him. By his eight-week recheck, he was no longer experiencing lameness, and follow-up radiographs showed that the procedure was producing the correct tibial plateau angle.