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What is a Tightrope Surgery?

Tightrope Surgery is one type of Extracapsular or Lateral Suture Stablization (LSS) technique. In the Tightrope repair, instead of a “traditional” heavy suture material, a branded material called FiberTape (made by Arthrex) is utilized.

Read More: Is Tightrope “Right” For My Dog?

Basic Overview of How the Tightrope is Performed

The suture, in this case FiberTape, is placed in the dog’s knee through a few small incisions which creating channels through the bone. The idea is that once the suture is placed in a figure-8 type shape through the structures surrounding the knee, that it will be able to control any harmful motion of the joint and control the drawer sign. This will allow the joint to build up its own scar tissue and internal stablization system without the use of a cruciate ligament.

The FiberTape used in TR repair is not meant to be a permanent “fix”, and it will degrade over time.

Read More: How Tightrope Surgery is Performed

Tightrope Recovery Time

Because the main mechanism for healing in all Extracapsular techniques relies on the development of scar tissue, the recovery period is at least 8-12 weeks.

It is extremely important to limit your dog’s activity immediately following surgery for at least the first few weeks. This means only limited walks strictly for bathroom breaks, all of which should be done on-leash as to prevent any unwanted movement.

Regular, controlled exercises may be incorporated back into their routine as your veterinarian sees fit – usually at about 4 weeks.

Read More: Recovery From Tightrope Surgery

Estimated Cost of Tightrope Surgery

When compared to TPLO/TTA, TR surgery is a lot less complex and the materials used cost less. However, the cost of TightRope seems to vary greatly from clinic to clinic. This could be due to the TightRope and FiberTape materials being relatively new, and could also be related to the fact that there are not yet many veterinarians performing TightRopes on a regular basis. Based on a quote I personally received and contributors to Dog Knee Injury, the cost for TightRope ranges anywhere from $900-$5000+

The cost for any CCL depends on a number of factors:

Size of Your Dog – Smaller dogs require less – medications and supplies are calculated based on weight

Location – Veterinary hospitals and clinics within major cities tend to be more expensive than smaller vet offices

Type of Facility – Veterinary universities and smaller clinics typically charge less than orthopedic specialty clinics

What is Included – Are you paying ONLY for the surgery? Or are post-operative x-rays, hydrotherapy, visits and medications included?

Read More: How Much Is Tightrope Surgery?

Additional Information on Tightrope Surgery

All of the Extracapsular techniques, including Tightrope, are very similar in that they make use of a very strong suture material to provide stabilization. These (typically nylon or FiberTape in the case of Tightrope) sutures basically “buy time” for the knee joint to build up an appropriate amount of scar tissue to provide stability. The suture placed in your dog’s knee will break, and that’s ok, just so long as it has had enough time to allow healing to take place.

Read Owner Experiences

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traditional tightrope

Traditional Tightrope – Shelbie

Shelbie is 9 years old in February and a 50lb mix of Anatolian Shepherd and Lab so she has always been active and loves chasing her ball and Frisbee! At least she used to 🙁 About 2 years back she had her left knee buckle and was extremely lame on it, of course immediately took […]

Conservative Management and Tightrope – Ellie

When Ellie, our 55-pound boxer/pit bull mix, was 3, she tore both ACLs within a couple weeks of each other. Our then vet immediately told us to have TPLO as soon as possible. However, My husband and I took to the Internet to see what we could learn about the whole ordeal. We opted for […]

Tightrope Surgery Infection – Benny

Benny, our three-year-old Staffordshire mix, had damaged both left and right CCLs. After much shopping, research, and talking to vets, we decided on tightrope repair. We had the RH hind leg done first. Post surgery went well until we got off of the antibiotics, when a horrible infection set in. All of the equipment had […]

tightrope knee surgery for dogs

Tightrope Knee Surgery for Dogs – Maxwell

Maxwell is a 103 lb Rhodesian Ridgeback mix in excellent athletic shape and very active. At 4 years old (last year – summer 2013) he tore his CCL on his left stifle completely while running and turning quickly. My normal vet said I would have to seek out a surgeon, she was unable to offer […]