This big guy is named Cyrus.  He is a young adult Kane Corso who came to see us because of limping in one of his hind legs.

On his examination, it was found that Cyrus’ right knee was the source of the trouble.  Radiographs of the knee confirmed increased swelling, called effusion, within the knee joint.

Cyrus’ symptoms, examination, and radiographic findings were all consistent with an injury to the cranial cruciate ligament in his right knee.  He was started on anti-inflammatory pain medication and plans were made for surgery.

The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) in dogs is the same as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans.  It helps to keep the tibia (“shin” bone) in alignment with the femur (“thigh” bone) when weight is placed on the leg.  When the CCL is ruptured or torn, significant pain and swelling occurs and the knee joint becomes unstable until adequate scarring occurs or surgery is performed.  Knees joints that have torn cruciate ligaments are also predisposed to developing arthritis.

In Cyrus’ case surgery was pursued because he is a big dog and larger dogs tend not to heal well after CCL injuries.  There are several surgical procedures that can be performed in dogs with torn cruciate ligaments but none of them involve actually replacing the ligament - studies have shown that such surgeries do not work in dogs.  The most common procedure is called a Lateral Suture, in which a thick strand of surgical nylon is looped around the knee to provide stability.

Other procedures involve changing the geometry of the knee by cutting and repositioning parts of the bones around the joint.  This is the type of surgery that Cyrus had performed, specifically called a Tibial Tuberosity Advancement.  It is thought that these surgeries allow dogs to begin using the affected leg sooner after surgery, making them a better option in big dogs.

As for Cyrus, his surgery was a success and he is currently undergoing physical therapy at home to help get him back on all four of his feet!