Cruciate ligament tears are a common knee injury in dogs, and Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery is one of the treatments for this condition. Our Pico Rivera veterinarians talk about Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) Surgery for dogs today, including how it works, the benefits, and what it entails.

A Dog's Cranial Cruciate Ligament

The cranial cruciate ligament is one of two ligaments in a dog's knee; it's a band of connective tissue that connects the femur and tibia (the bones above and below the knee) and allows the knee to function. This is also the ligament with the highest risk of injury.

A dog's cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) is similar to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans and just like the rupture of the cruciate ligament in dogs, people are often subject to ACL tears.

A dog's cruciate ligament can rupture suddenly (acute rupture) or slowly tear, getting worse until a complete rupture occurs.

Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) Surgery

Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery is a less invasive surgery than other types of surgical procedures used to treat a torn CCL such as TPLO surgery (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy). 

The front part of the tibia is cut and separated from the rest of the bone during TTA surgery. To move the front section forward and up, a special orthopedic spacer is screwed into the space between the two sections of the tibia. The patellar ligament, which runs along the front of the knee, is better aligned as a result of this, which helps to prevent much of the abnormal sliding movement. A bone plate will be attached after this procedure to keep the front section of the tibia in its proper position.

In dogs with a steep tibial plateau, Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery is usually performed (angle of the top section of the tibia). To determine if TTA surgery is the best surgical treatment for your dog's torn CCL, your veterinarian will examine the geometry of his or her knee.

What Does TTA Surgery for Dogs Involve?

Your veterinarian will examine your dog's knee to determine the extent of the injury, the severity of the injury, and whether Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery is the best treatment option for your dog. Your veterinarian may perform the following tests and diagnostics:

  • 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)

Your dog's surgery might be scheduled the same day these tests are conducted or at a later date. Your vet will provide a good-faith estimate of the cost of the TTA surgery for your dog, so be sure to thoroughly consult with them.

For their surgery, your dog will be sedated with anesthesia, and your veterinarian will also give them painkillers and antibiotics. The limb of your dog will then be clipped from the hip to the ankle. They will then make a small cut or incision in the knee before starting the surgery to inspect its internal structures. After that, the damaged cartilage is removed, and any remaining ruptured ligaments are trimmed.

X-rays will be taken after your puppy's surgery to assess the angle of the top of the shin bone (the tibial plateau) in relation to the patellar tendon and to inspect the implant's position.

After the surgery, your dog may be given a bandage, and oftentimes patients can go home the day after their TTA procedure.

After Surgery Care

It may take several months for your dog to recover from surgery, so make sure you follow your vet's post-operative care instructions carefully. When your dog is discharged from the hospital, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers. If your dog has a habit of licking its wound, an Elizabethan collar may be required while the incision heals.

During the first few weeks after your dog's surgery, you'll need to visit your veterinarian so they can monitor his recovery and remove any sutures.

Restriction of your dog's activity and movements, except for toiletry purposes, is critical to their recovery. To prevent them from running, stair climbing, or jumping, you must keep them on a leash. To prevent these movements when your dog is not on a leash, confine them to a small room or pen. You can gradually increase your dog's activity and movement after a few weeks have passed.

A follow-up appointment with your veterinarian will be scheduled after approximately 6 to 8 weeks have passed since your pooch's procedure. Your veterinarian will check the function of your dog's leg, take X-rays to assess the healing of the cut bone, and give you advice on how to increase your dog's daily activity during this visit. Additional tests and evaluations may be recommended depending on the circumstances of your dog's 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

Another possible complication occurs in a small percentage of dogs who have had TTA surgery without having injured cartilage and then tear their CCL, necessitating a second surgical procedure to remove the torn cartilage.

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.

Feel free to contact our vets in Pico Rivera today if you have any questions about your dog's upcoming Tibial Tuberosity Advancement surgery.