Cruciate Ligament Surgery: The Tightrope Method

CCL Tightrope

We all love to let our dog “be a dog”, especially on the salty shores of southeastern Massachusetts! But the wear and tear of athletic activities like energetic play on Cape Cod beaches, combined with the potential for arthritis in canine joints, can result in orthopedic problems in our four legged friends.

One of the most common orthopedic problems observed in dogs is deficiency of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). This rope-like ligament is one of the main stabilizing structures of the stifle, or knee joint. Similar to a human’s ACL, it keeps the femur and tibia in proper alignment while dogs engage in all forms of activity. CCL Disease occurs when integrity of the ligament fails, and your pet displays symptoms like limping, inability to bear weight on the hind limb, and stiffness or swelling in the stifle. This disease is diagnosed through a physical examination of your pet and X-rays of the painful joint.

There is no cure for CCL Disease, but it can be treated to relieve pain and improve function of the injured limb. If nonsurgical treatments like weight loss and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories are not successful, there are numerous surgical treatment options. Historically, few veterinarians in our geographical area have offered surgical solutions to this problem, despite how common the injury presents itself. In addition, the more traditional surgical techniques require bone cutting, which results in a higher risk of complications.

But the newest technology, made and patented by Florida-based Arthrex, involves a minimally invasive and improved method for stabilization of the CCL. Dr. Leach is specially trained in this surgical treatment option, known as TightRope CCL. The procedure mimics the function of a CCL using a strong synthetic material, providing stabilization. Dr. Leach has studied and practiced TightRope CCL with success for years and has observed faster recovery in his patients when compared with traditional surgical options.

The TightRope procedure is quickly becoming a safer, more cost effective treatment option in response to torn cranial cruciate ligaments. Dr. Leach warns all dog owners that success in treatment depends entirely on what is done at home after the operation. This means committing to following all instructions for recovery once your pet comes home from surgery, keeping follow-up appointments, and managing your dog at an ideal weight. But he is confident that exploring the TightRope option is one way to restore the quality of “a dog’s life” affected by CCL Disease.

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