Prices for veterinary surgery vary greatly depending on where you are located no matter whether you choose TTA, TPLO, TR, or a lateral suture method. The prices can also fluctuate due to the availability of a certain procedure, number of surgeons performing the surgery, and the size of your dog. A number of veterinary practices will include a number of weeks of post-op physical therapy, including hydrotherapy, as part of a package price for the surgery. It is important when comparing prices to understand what is included in the quoted price, so you are able to compare apples to apples. Taking these factors into consideration can help to explain the wide variance in prices presently for the Tightrope (TR) CCL repair surgery.
We would expect TR costs to be substantially lower than TPLO or TTA, but slightly higher than a conventional Lateral Suture Surgery (extracapsular imbrication, traditional repair). Reported Tight Rope costs have ranged from $700 to $2500, and seem to depend mostly on geographic location and type of facility where the surgery was performed. At a private practice in North Dakota an owner paid $1108 for everything, which included exam, diagnostics, anesthesia, scope, surgery, FiberTape implant, post operative monitoring, bandages, and medications (TPLO was $1900 at the same practice). At one major US state university vet facility, the total bill for TR done by top ortho surgeons including was in the $2200-2500 range.
The materials used in TR are a lot less expensive than those used in TPLO/TTA, and the surgery itself is a lot less complex. A typical TPLO procedure takes about one hour, whereas TR is completed in about 20 minutes. Less time under anesthesia, less surgical time, a simpler procedure, and fewer materials should translate into a lower cost for dog owners. I expect in the future we will see the prices for Tightrope repair somewhere in the $1000 range as more veterinarians become trained and proficient in this technique.
Remember, when looking for a veterinary surgeon, a higher price does not necessarily mean a better surgeon or superior procedure.
Below is the invoice for an estimate I received when contemplating Tightrope repair for my dog. The low end of the estimate was $3,551.16 and the high end of the estimate was $3,635.94 for Tight rope surgery.
A few things to note before going into the details of the invoice:
1) My dog in an American Bulldog weighing roughly 90 pounds (normal weight), and is 5 years old.
2) He is in good health with no pre-existing conditions that would complicate anesthesia or surgery.
3) This estimate, although some of the information has been blacked out to protect privacy, is from a speciality veterinary clinic with veterinary surgeons who specialize in cranial cruciate ligament repair surgeries in dogs.
4) I live in Southern California, and this estimate is from a veterinary office in that area.
I will go line by line to go over the charges included in the cost of Tightrope surgery. For smaller animals some of the values will be less, and accordingly for larger dogs. Hopefully this invoice will give you a basic picture of what you can expect to pay for a Tight rope repair, and where all of the money goes.
EST Tightrope Procedure – $0 – Placeholder to tell us what type of estimate we are looking at.
CBC and Chemistry Profile – $163.80 – Blood panel including complete blood count and general chemistry to make sure your dog is healthy enough to tolerate anesthesia and the TR procedure.
Radiograph, 2 Views – $224.70 – X-rays needed prior to surgery to both confirm diagnosis of torn CCL (rule out other possible causes of lameness), and to act as a guide for the veterinary surgeon during the procedure.
Radiology Interpretation – $45.68 – Cost to have a veterinary professional examine and read the x-rays.
Catheterization, Intravenous – $94.00 – An IV will be placed in your dog’s vein through which your pet will receive medication and fluids during and immediately following surgery.
Surgery Room Use – $113.82 – Fee associated with use of the operating room for the duration of time required to perform the Tightrope surgery (this value is significantly more for a TPLO).
Isoflurane Gas Anesthesia, Initial 15 Min – $117.88 – Cost for the anesthetic gas used to put your dog under anesthesia during the procedure.
Isoflurane Gas, Additional – $168.60 for 60 minutes and $252.90 for 90 minutes – Cost for additional quantities of anesthetic gas depending on how long the ccl repair takes.
Tightrope Standard – $470. 00 – Cost of Tightrope surgery related supplies, this is mostly the cost of the Fiber Tape.
Surgical Anesthesia, Level I – $294.00 – Cost associated with keeping your dog under anesthesia during surgery and providing medications/monitoring.
Surgical Supplies, Orthopedic – $268.54 – Fee for use of general surgical supplies used during Tightrope repair (scalpel, drapes, cautery tools, etc.), this does not include the cost of the actual Tightrope Fibertape material.
Surgeons Fee 2 – $960.75 – Price the surgeon charges to perform Tightrope repair surgery.
Elective Ortho Hospitalization, General – $138.92 – Fee to have your dog kept in the veterinary hospital overnight following the CCL surgery with monitoring.
Misc. Medications, Surgical – $400.00 – This includes prescription medications given to your pet post operatively and those sent home with you during the post operative period. They would include a sedative (Acepromazine), pain relief (Tramadol), anti inflammatory (Rimadyl), and an antibiotic(Cephalexin), and possibly other medications at your veterinarian’s discretion.
Fentanyl 75 mcg patch – $65.00 – Pain relief patch that will be placed in your pet to control post operative discomfort.
Buster Collar 25 cm, Clear – $23.86 – Collar to be placed on your dog during the post operative period to prevent them from ripping out their stitches or injuring the surgical site.
Also included are all of the post operative recheck visits, but be aware that if you pet develops any complications related to the surgery you will be required to pay for any additional expenses incurred.