Anterior cruciate liagment (ACL) tears are one of the most common injuries that create rear leg lameness in the dog. They cause pain and lameness. The degree of lameness ranges from an obvious limp to complete refusal to bear weight on the injuried leg. Over time, many of these dogs lose muscle mass which progresses to complete disuse of the leg. Others will use the leg after awhile, but later develop severe painful osteo-arthritis of the knee.

TPLO surgery

Traditionally, treatment for an ACL injury involves surgery. There are several different surgical techniques with varying degrees of sucess. Currently, the most common corrective surgery is tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO). This major surgery involves cutting the tibial bone and a special plate is applied to change the joint angle and resolve the pain and discomfort. The surgery is considered nearly 98% successful and the gold standard of treatment for an ACL. The disadvantage of the surgery is the aggressive nature of cutting the bone, which leaves patients very immobile for several weeks. Manydogs require a sling to assist their movement during the healing stage.

Many veterinarians will perform less aggressive procedures that perform well initially. The end result of all these procedures is advanced osteoarthritis as the dog ages. Therefore, we do not perform or recommend them anymore.

During recent years, a new non-surgical treatment method has emerged. Veterinarians who practice regenerative medicine are using adult stem cells to treat these injuries. A minor surgery is performed to harvest stem cells from their fat. The stem cells are processed and injected into the injured knee. The pet is not immobilized and doesn’t require slings or other assistance measures. They are placed on limited activity: no running, leash walking only ,but encouraged to walk regularly. The success rate based on national reviews with owners is about 95%.

Therefore, it is the recommendation of Cornerstone to use adult stem cells. One will not have the post-operative headaches of a fractured, then plated bone to deal with of the TPLO and greater chances of not developing osteoarthritis from the other surgeries available.