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TTA Surgery Recovery Advice – Lucy

TTA Surgery AdviceLucy is an energetic, athletic Sheprador (Australian Shepherd/Lab Mix). At this writing, she is 3 1/2 years old.

I believe that Lucy’s initial injury occurred when she was about a year old when she stepped in a deep hole at a dog park while tearing around. She is pretty tough and did not seem disabled at first, but gradually showed symptoms of a CCL tear. The last 6-8 months, she barely used her left leg.

This decision—how to deal with this injury—is very difficult. The expense, lack of many alternatives, suffering of the dog, finding a vet you trust, and anticipation of the effort and possible failure. I prayed about it a lot…I applaud and encourage all of you who are going through this, trying to do the best for your dog.

A common thread I discovered when reading the many online accounts was this: more often than not people who report great results refer to their dog’s surgeon by name and mention his/her experience, as opposed to just saying “my vet…” I think its very important to find the most competent and experienced surgeon you can.

I wanted Dr. Charles Pullen in Scottsdale to do Lucy’s surgery and thought a tightrope would be the best I could afford. After a discussion with my regular vet, I then thought that a traditional lateral suture repair would be fine. But I wound up back at Animal Surgical Center in Scottsdale. I figured that if I was going to spend the money and effort to repair her knee, I would trust her to a surgeon who has done many hundreds of them.

TTA Surgery BandageIf cost is a big issue, I’d encourage anyone contemplating a procedure to discuss this very candidly with the vet. Many of them understand this dilemma and may be able to discount or work with you to help you out.

Lucy had a TTA on May 30. Dr. Pullen felt this was the best for her…60 pounds of high-drive dog. Dr. Pullen, his staff and facility are beyond top-notch—extraordinary attention to detail The surgery went very well and 2 weeks post surgery, Lucy is making wonderful progress. He removed torn cartilage and adjusted the angle of her tibia with regard to the patellar tendon. Amazing stuff. He rated her weight bearing of the repaired leg at 80% one week post op.

The biggest obstacles: those first days post-op. Waiting to get the bandage off. Getting her to poop (yeah, we needed an enema, but it wasn’t a big deal). Keeping her off those stitches. Oh, and finding ways to get a dog to take medicine.

Follow the doctor’s orders. I’m fortunate, as a teacher, to have time at home this summer to babysit her. I can’t imagine not having had someone with her most all the time for at least the first 10 days.

You MUST keep the dog on a leash at all times outdoors. I opened the door so she, in a narcotized state, could go out to pee. She spotted a cat on our wall—the narcotics wore off in 1/2 second! If I hadn’t had her tight on a leash, it could have been really bad. I shudder…and thank God I had that leash on her!

I am fortunate…Lucy is very driven to please and has been extremely cooperative. In that vein, I’d STRONGLY encourage anyone contemplating surgery to reinforce obedience and crate training. The more responsive your dog is to you, the better.

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9 Responses to TTA Surgery Recovery Advice – Lucy

  1. B Deede June 26, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Hi, my 6year old golden torn her left ACL in Oct 2011 and had the traditional lateral repair. Fast forward to June 2012 and 3 months of intensive rehab including underwater treadmill, twice daily exercise and walk, but still doesn’t fully weight bear. We did the intensive rehab As she wasn’t fully weight bearing at 2.5 months and developed a hip click 2 months Post Op. Hip x-rays were negative. Well last Sunday she tore her right ACL and we are now looking at TTA vs TPLO. What can we anticipate/expect for her recovery. Any shared experiences would be greatly appreciated. Plan to have her start working with a rehab specialist given our experience with her first repair and desire for her to regain as much function as possible. Appreciate your comments about leash use. We don’t crate her so not sure how that would work. I am very concern about bowel and bladder as it took her 2 days to pee and she still hasn’t poop yet. Did you give her the enema or did the vet? How long did you wait till you gave her one. We currently are using a sling for her to walk as she isn’t weight bearing with the right and only partially with the left and the left knee is clicking when she does bear weight on it. The has been so difficult for us, Bella is a sweet heart thru all of this. Thanks for any feedback

  2. Joe June 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Our surgeon has done many TPLO, TTA and TR procedures. Much depends on the dog and nature of the injury, but he is most enthused by the success he observes in the TTA. He made a very good case for the TTA. After 4 weeks now, Lucy is looking great…she uses both legs almost equally to walk, and has since the surgery.

    Our surgeon recommended 6 weeks in a crate, except to eliminate, or if on a held leash inside or outdoors. Lucy never handled a crate well, but fortunately with close supervision we have managed to keep her very subdued indoors w/o a crate. Sedation has helped. Acepromazine is very effective in keeping her calm…1/2 of a 35mg tablet zonks her, so we are able to calm her w/ 1-1.5 tablets daily. I crush them, and mix it w about a half cup of milk and she laps it right up…a dab of butter always helps.

    Pain has not been an issue for her, but she does have a high threshold. We ice and do range of motion at least once a day. Her ROM was good at one week. Today I can get her hock to within about 2 inches of her butt, which is pretty good.

    She is convinced that she is 100%, which is the biggest challenge for us. We take short sniff walks around the yard after potty trips for some stimulation. Short leash and always under control. She handles this fine and it’s soooooo hot in PHX that she wants to go in after 5-10 minutes w/o complaint.

    I was a little alarmed that she wasn’t drinking much for almost a week post op. she didn’t poop for close to a week…yikes! But she showed no distress, so we tried to be patient. We administered a fleet, with the help of sedation, and that got things moving. Those issues resolved w minimal trauma. Their bodies are perhaps more resilient than we think.

    Looking forward to 6 weeks-a big milestone. We will get X-rays and then begin more active rehab. Hope this helps…

  3. Joe July 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    Took Lucy in for her 6 week X-Rays and exam today. Excellent! The doctor was very enthused about the bone growth he sees around the implants and in the gap where the tibia was cut and advanced. Looking at the X-rays, he said that you could think of the implants as being firmly embedded in bone already, and that there is very little danger that they could break loose, or of any other major complication.

    She can be free to roam the house and even go outside (in the fenced back yard) to eliminate w/o a leash, as long as I make sure there aren’t things out there that would cause her to run and make quick turns (like chasing a rabbit). Also 20 minute walks are okay, which will make her much happier.

    One of the claimed benefits of the TTA is faster recovery. I surely can’t speak for other experiences, but In this respect we couldn’t be happier with the outcome, so far.

    Again, I have found a vet. surgeon that believes very much in the TTA procedure and has done over 200 of them. My recommendations: find such a vet. It might not be the TTA, but if he’s enthusiastic and experienced with his procedure, I think it improves your chances for a good outcome. Also, have a plan for watching your dog post-op, and reinforce basic obedience before the surgery if you can.

  4. Joe August 23, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    Lucy updated (8-22-12). 12 weeks in and Lucy is doing very, very well. You would not be able to tell which leg was repaired by watching her run. There seem to be no residual effects from the surgery. Prior to surgery she got up from sleep and moved around like an old dog. She now jumps up, stretches, and is ready to go—no limping, and only very slight signs of stiffness.

    I am grateful for a great surgeon and believe now that the TTA was the best for Lucy. I breathe a deep sigh of relief that things went well (with a lot of hard work) and am glad that over the course of the summer she has regained normal function in that leg.

  5. Joe September 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    15 weeks after TTA for Lucy. Gradually she has regained what I would consider to be full function. She swims almost daily, chases the ball vigorously and is very much the dog she was prior to her injury.

    I do not push her as hard as I did before, mainly out of concern for her other leg. A tear in her other CCL would be very difficult to cope with emotionally.

    In retrospect, these weeks have gone by quickly, and those difficult days after the surgery seem long ago. I give thanks every day that she’s regained her ability to run/play/work and enjoy life without discomfort or much limitation.

    The TTA was right for our dog, especially as performed by a terrific surgeon. I hope that dog owners going through hard times with their dog can find hope in some of the success stories here, and I ‘m very glad that Lucy’s is one that I’m able to share.

  6. Michelle Amodie July 6, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    I just found out today my dog ruptured ACL, I am depressed but looking at everyone’s experiences I am feeling better…I am scared about surgery but I guess the TTA is better right? Please let me know.

  7. Laura Hill July 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Hello, I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone for their insightful information regarding what they experienced with their dogs, post TTA ACL surgery. It gave me the motivation and courage to have our own 2.4 month yellow lab Anni, go through the process on 3 July, 2013. Needless to say that the first 24-48 hours post surgery were rough times, given the amount of pain she was in at the time, but after that, she is starting to make a rapid recovery and now acts like nothing is wrong with her left leg. Tomorrow we go into the vet to get her stitches out and for an evaluation. Note that we did not crate her, but kept her confined for about 10 days in a small area, where we could keep an eye on her. I just hope that her leg is as good as she is making us believe, with her increasing energy levels. She is hard to keep down at the moment! TTA was definately the right choice for this family. I just hope we dont have to go through it with her right leg. Anyway, no regrets. She appears to be much happier now that she can start using her left leg and not have issues getting up anymore. Will keep you all posted on her progress. And thanks again for your comments. Laura Hill

  8. Michael Stout October 7, 2014 at 6:21 am #

    Thanks everyone. Glad to hear about Lucy and the other success stories. I’m about to go down the TTA path with Sadie, after getting over my denial that this even happened out of nowhere. I really needed a site like this. Best of luck to all. Stay strong. Love your dogs.

    • Michelle Amodie October 7, 2014 at 8:01 am #

      Best thing you can do for Sadie, my dog is doing great after her TTA :)

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