How Much Does Canine Cruciate Ligament Surgery Cost?

Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to canine cruciate ligament ruptures. These breeds include Rottweilers, cocker spaniels, German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, toy poodles, Lhasa apsos and Golden retrievers. Since overweight dogs are more prone to this injury, controlling your pet's diet can help prevent this condition.

Cruciate Ligament

Each knee has two cruciate ligaments, namely the anterior ligament and the posterior ligament. The anterior ligament is also known as the cranial cruciate ligament and is commonly injured in dogs. The posterior ligament is also known as the caudal cruciate ligament, but it rarely suffers an injury. Injury to the cranial cruciate ligament causes the knee to be unstable and can lead to cartilage injury and osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of Cruciate Ligament Injury:

  • Lameness
  • Stiffness of the knee joint
  • Swelling of the knee
  • Atrophy of the rear limb muscles
  • Hind leg extended when sitting
  • Reluctance to flex the knee 
  • Reluctance to exercise

Surgeries to Repair Ruptured Cruciate Ligaments

There are three surgical techniques employed for repairing ruptured canine cruciate ligaments, and the costs of these surgeries differ. These surgeries are:

Extracapsular Repair

This procedure is the least invasive and has a short surgical time. The knee joint is opened and torn ligaments or bone spurs are removed. The joint is tightened by passing a large suture around the fabella behind the knee and through a hole drilled in the front of the tibia. The function of the cruciate ligament is taken over by the tightened knee joint and the dog can recover and regain full use of his leg within three months. Extracapsular repair is the cheapest of the three surgical options and can cost between $700 and $1,100.

Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)

This surgical procedure is relatively less invasive in comparison to other procedures and involves advancement of the tibial tuberosity and change in the angle of the patellar ligament. This makes the knee joint more stable and doesn't disrupt the axis of the tibia. TTA has a shorter recovery time and fewer risks of complications. The dog is able to bear weight within 48 hours of the surgery. The pet also shows gradual improvement with time. Although titanium implants are used in TTA, the procedure is simple and requires less equipment. The cost of a TTA procedure can vary from $1,500 to $2,000 and is inclusive of all costs related to pre-operative tests, medications, bandages, sutures and radiography.

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)

This procedure involves cutting off the top part or the plateau of the tibia and rotating it to decrease the angle. The tibia is stabilized in a new position with the help of a stainless steel bone plate and screws. The femur is prevented from sliding down the slope of the tibial plateau. This is an invasive procedure and should be carried out by a specialist. Full function of the knee joint is restored within four months of the surgery. The cost for a TPLO surgical procedure can range from $2,200 to $2,700 and includes all expenses related to tests, medications and visits to the specialist to remove the sutures and bandages.

In some cases, rupture of the cruciate ligament can be treated by building muscle strength of the dog, but surgery is the preferred option as an untreated torn ligament can cause a rupture in the other knee and arthritis.