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What Does TightRope Surgery Cost?

Tight Rope CCL Repair

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.

Invoice for Price of Tight Rope Surgical Repair

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.

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60 Responses to What Does TightRope Surgery Cost?

  1. Jody February 15, 2009 at 6:20 pm #

    Our lab/retriever cross tore both cruciates back in October 2008, two weeks apart. We opted for TPLO surgery due to his size and activity level and the long-term results. He had the first on 11/17/08 and did wonderfully. He was bearing weight on the leg when we picked him up the next day. We were very pleased with his recovery and with it being winter and his other leg not good, he was content to stay in the house except for his potty breaks and 10 minute walks after 2 weeks.
    The second leg was done on 1/14/09 and again he was bearing weight when we picked him up. His recovery has gone very well but it has been hard to keep him resting and quiet. I believe he feels better than he has since October and is suffering from “cabin fever”. We have spent a small fortune on rahide chews, Kong and Kong treats, bully sticks, etc. trying to keep him content. He goes back on 2/26 for X-rays and I am hopeful that everything has healed nicely and that we can extend the 10 minute walks.
    This is a dog that was used to long daily walks off leash back in the fields and I am anxious to resume those walks although concerned about him chasing groundhogs as that is how he tore the first cruciate.
    I know some people think we are crazy for spending approx. $2,500 per leg but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I have been sleeping on the floor with him for over 3 months and will continue to do so until we get the okay for him to jump on our bed. He was supposed to be my son’s dog but became very attached to me and follows me everywhere. Even my husband who is not an animal lover to the extent I am allows him to sleep with us and never batted an eye at the cost of the surgery. He is a very special boy and we are looking forward to many more years with him on four good legs!
    He is currently on Rimadyl and PhyCox and will be indefinitely.

  2. Juan P. Eslava March 9, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

    Hi. I found your blog on google while researching torn CCL’s. I am so glad to have found it. I have a 4 year old American Bulldog, named Kane, that will require surgery to one of his rear legs due to a possible torn CCL. He still needs a formal diagnosis but the vet felt his knee and noticed friction as well as a slight “drawer”. I look forward to reading through your many posts. Again, thank you!

  3. Lori March 10, 2009 at 8:24 am #

    Thanks…..Our Lab/Newfie cross is just only over 2 years old and he has had a knee/hip/back problem brought on by weather and excercise for over 10 months. Due to a new Vet at our practice and changing weather conditions – it has been a very long road to discover that he has bone spurs in his back caused by arthritis. Less than 2 weeks after this heartbreaking news – he slipped out in the front yard (after a slow restful walk for the back) and finally ruined the right knee – Now scheduled for a repair Thursday morning (Mar 12). Poor baby – We all love and spoil Thor including our 10 year old Lab (Blackie) and it is awful to have to watch him hobbling around when his true love is fetching and retrieving. Please write more about your experience – I am uncertain as to the steps on the road to recovery and we all are willing to do whatever we have to in order to “get our Thor back” in good order. PS He has been (all 6 lanky feet of him) sleeping on our bed since a puppy – I have made him beds on the floors in his other favourite hangouts. (Thanks for the tip on this – I will ask the Vet Thurs about the bed jumping). Thanks again for your words – helped cheer me up a little – all very anxious about this surgery and any possible damage that might occur to the left knee while he tries to get around in the winter/spring. Take care.
    Lori

  4. Lori March 11, 2009 at 7:28 am #

    I have a 80lb Chessie (1 year old) who torn both CCL’s. We had the Right repaired with the Tightrope Procedue 6 weeks ago. We will have his Left repaired in early summer. Let me just say that the recovery from the Tightrope procedure is long. 1 week post op, He could bear some weight on his leg. At 6 weeks, he still does not bear all of his weight on his leg. He is still on activity restriction, and minimal leash walking. He takes anti-inflammatorys daily, and high doses of Glucosamine and Condroitin. I also think he is depressed as he wants to do more than we will allow. His appetite has decreased and he is down 10 lbs. (went from 80 to 70lbs)
    I am a little dissappointed, as I guess I was expecting more than I should.
    If you email Dr. Cook, he will send you a list of the vet’s in your area that perform the surgery.
    For those wondering about cost, it was approximately $2500.00 including pre-op and post -op xrays and blood work. Hope this inforation was helpful!

    • ana August 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      Can you give me Dr. Cook’s email address?

  5. Laurie April 7, 2009 at 8:50 am #

    Our German Shepherd had surgery a week ago in the San Diego area. Between our regular vet and the Orthopedic Specialist, it has cost us over $5,000.00 to this point and I’m sure there will be more charges before we are through. (I’m glad phone calls are free) Our dog, Dillon, is doing well and will go off the Tramadol tomorrow. Although recomended,we did not give him Rimadyl as he was not eating well and I simply don’t like the stuff! He’ll be going on Glucosamine/Condroitin in the next couple of days. He also has shoulder dysplasia, but we nixed the surgery on it at this time. Our main problem with him was being concerned over his hesitation to pee or poop! At 5 days I was getting frantic, but on day 6 we had a pee that lasted forever and today – the 7th – finally – he pooped! Since my husband and I are both retired we can arrange for one of us to be home at all times, so we sit with him in the living room and at 9 pm while he is outside with my husband, I move his beds into the laundry room, put the E-collar on when he’s brought in and that’s it till the next morning. How do couples who both work manage the recuperation period?

  6. CNYmama April 29, 2009 at 9:30 am #

    Rosco, our 7yo lab/rhodesian ridgeback mix had lateral imbrication surgery last week. We were able to finance it and pay over one year with “Carecredit.” Yes, people think we’re crazy too, but how much money could ever buy back the time we have with our awesome best friends? Not enough in the world! Poached chicken breast is working pretty well to hide the pills. Having extra bedding everywhere is helping so he can lay down comfortably where he wants. He also seems depressed and confused, but he is weight bearing, going up and down stairs, peeing and pooping. I recommend getting disposable gloves to help your friend clean up after, (going to the bathroom can be a little messy on three legs). Thank you for all of the info!!!!!

  7. Patti Migliori May 1, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

    I am looking for surgeons in the Mission Viejo, Calif. area who do the Tightrope procedure. My 110 lb. Golden has already had one knee doen with the TPLO Surgery but now the other one needs to be done..

  8. Mary Jo Coppack May 8, 2009 at 1:42 pm #

    Patti,
    Were you able to find anyone in Mission Viejo? We are in San Digo and I am looking for a vet who does this procedure. I also have a Golden who has torn her ACL and am considering this over the TPLO

  9. Kim mills May 28, 2009 at 6:39 pm #

    I have a 2 year 10 month old American pitbull terrier named Caine. Be has just recently torn or partially torn his left back ACL. I took him to the vet Wednesday May 20 they said he may have only partially tore it and with no excersise could heel itself. Gave me some pain meds and said check back in a week. He seems to be doing better. It only bothers him if he trys to run or turns it a little. I hope he doesn’t need surgery but after doing some research I think he is going to need it. I have 2 other dogs and he just wants to play I feel terrible for him. My boyfriend and I both work full time and I’m not sure how i’m going to be able to be there for him like he needs. He weighs about 70 lbs and is a big baby. He gets depressed sometimes when he is stuck in the house for too long. Any advice would be appreciated. I’m worried for him poor guy.

  10. Lisa May 29, 2009 at 10:01 am #

    we have a 5 year old, 85 pound Lab Retriever who had her first TPLO when she was 2 with excellent results. She just recently tore her other ACL. I have found several entries for TPLO vs. TTA, but I am not finding much on TPLO vs. traditional or extracapsular repairs. In our area a TPLO costs $3500 and a traditional is about $1000. One vet says she will not perform a traditional repair on a dog over 50 pounds because it will not hold in the long run. Another says it doesn’t matter. And of course the ortho surgeons want a TPLO done. I am a physical therapist (for humans) and have a hard time with 2 different procedures being done on either side. But we as a family have a hard time with the cost of the TPLO. Any suggestions/input?? We love this dog and will ultimately do whatever it takes, as most people would who are taking the time to read this.

    • Mary Ann August 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

      I am in the same boat, I have a 100# lab and can not afford the TPLO (4000.+ in my area) and am opting for the tightrope but am very concerned that his is too big for it. I have surgery scheduled for Sept 1st and have a call into the Dr. Who would think this decision would be so difficult!

      • Connie August 23, 2011 at 5:28 am #

        Hey Mary Ann. Wow. it’s been awhile since I wrote this post. Update after the second surgery. Mattie’s orthopedist told me that he did not think the tightrope procedure would hold because of Mattie’s size and athleticism, but it was the only thing we could do until her knee healed back in place. Yes, 6 weeks later, it failed. However, by this time, the knee was in place and we were able to continue with the TPLO procedure that he felt she should have had in the first place. Can you imagine how awful it was for me financially and emotionally to have to consider putting her through a 3rd surgery? It wasn’t really an option. It was a must do and deal with it situation. The ortho was awesome and I had complete trust in him. He performed the TPLO (Aug. 09) and we were back to the beginning with healing and rehab. The great thing about TPLO is that they can bear weight initially. No using a towel to hold up the leg. It is reportedly a longer healing time, but I felt it was easier, by far because she was able to bear weight and I was ecstatic to observe her as she put more weight on it gradually. So, those initial 5-10 min. walks were easier. To help her heal, I did those short walks several times a day. As much as they’d let me. But it eased her frustration by getting her out of the house and crate. After the healing process was over, the ortho told me that it would take something catastrophic (car accident, etc.) for that procedure to fail. Especially due to her size, I would never waste $ on another procedure again. TPLO is expensive, but trying the procedure that cost less than $1000, ended up costing me over $8,000 in the end. Not to mention Mattie’s agony, increased arthritis and my emotional turmoil. I am so angry at the first vet for ‘ruining her.’ Today, 2 yrs. later, she is 7 and hiking all over the CO mountains. She has hiked up to 13 miles, but I try to keep it under 8. The arthritis still gets to her and it breaks my heart.

        If you can find someone to do TPLO at a more reasonable cost within a few hours driving distance, I’d make the drive. I drove 2 hours for checkups and surgery. I’d do it again if I had to. So worth it. Good luck with your decision.

  11. Connie May 31, 2009 at 9:57 am #

    Lisa, I empathize with you. My 5yo Mastiff/ Husky mix had the traditional (fishing line) procedure back in February, 2009. Although she was nearly 90lbs, the vet, who was recommended to me by a friend, said in his 20yrs he has not had a failure using this ‘outdated’ procedure. Four weeks postop, Mattie stopped bearing weight on the injured leg and I could feel movement in her knee cap. The overconfident, arrogant vet refused to do an x-ray upon my request and did not even bother to feel the movement I mentioned. He was sure that she just had inflammation and placed her on Rimadyl. When this did not work, I took her 2 hours south to a highly recommended orthopedist. Although much more costly, I just wanted the best care and to get Mattie back to her normal hiking, agility self. Not only had her ACL repair failed, she had a luxating patella (her knee was moving about freely). I shelled out another $3000 in surgical and preprocedure x-rays and blood work. This time, he performed the tightrope procedure. Although he prefers TPLO for large dogs, this was not an option due to her unstable knee. She is bearing weight, but not completely. Tomorrow, we head back to Nashua, NH for repeat x-rays and hope that her knee is stable. Over the past four weeks, we have been able to increase our walks to 25 min./ 3-4x per day. We have been seeing a canine physical therapist and have worked hard to increase muscle in her much atrophied leg. Luckily, Mattie has not shown signs of depression, although it is difficult to not allow her to run and play like she is so ready to do. This has been such a long road. I’ll just cave in tears if we have to start all over again. Do yourself a favor, go to the orthopedist. Don’t budget costs over effectiveness. It may cost you more $$ and aggravation in the long run if you do. The tightrope procedure seems to be compared well with TPLO for large dogs. Ask your ortho how they compare these two procedures. Apparently, it is fairly new and not many are trained on the technique.

    Kim, I fear that if you wait for the partial tear to heal itself, you’ll increase chances of arthritis in the knee. Perhaps go to an orthopedist and get their opinion. I’ve been hearing that this is the case. Also, since Mattie’s knee was in bad form for 3 weeks after initial failure of her repair, she has a significant amount of arthritis.

  12. Justin June 15, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    Thank you so much for these posts, my 9 (last friday) year old Lab went out on a walk and came back literally on three legs. After giving it the night to heal, he was worse this morning. Not knowing what to do, I took him to the vet only to find out that this was not good!! What fear I had having to leave him at the vet! I thought we were going in, getting some pain meds and coming home. What a shock this is. Thanks everyone for taking the time to share.

  13. JoAnn July 10, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    I have a nearly 3yr old yellow lab (Chynna) who we think may have torn her right CCL last summer – either partially or complete, no definite answer there. We decided to not do surgery and have been maintaining her with DurLactin and JointMax Triple Strength supplements, plus anti-inflammatory. We’d noticed some changed recently, but I was hoping to wait until we were more settled after a recent move to make any decisions.

    Unfortunately Chy took that out of our hands yesterday, when I suspect she and her sister (true littermates) did something outside while I was at the post office. I came home to her not bearing weight on the left leg – and not enjoying having to use that right leg AT ALL. Took her to my vet today, and he confirmed a bit of a drawer sign in that leg, and seriously recommended we speed up the decision process.

    I have an appointment next week with a vet that is well versed in the TightRope procedure, and am hoping that may be the way we can go with her. Now our big question seems to be “Which leg first?”. I’m glad to hear someone else sleeping on the floor with their “baby”, as I am sure I will be doing the same thing.

    Her sister (Cherry, black and VERY athletic)is going to be a small challenge for us, in that she does play rough with her sister. Not looking forward to a long rehab time! I will probably look into doggie day care for days when I need to be gone a long time to help with the boredom and keeping them from getting out of control without Mommy around. Our vet does day care, so that will work out great!

  14. Greg Nagy July 15, 2009 at 1:02 pm #

    My vet/surgeon wants to charge us $3600 for the TR procedure, actually more than the TPLO/TTA surgery ($3500). This seems out of line with other people’s experience and doesn’t make sense given that it is a simpler/less invasive surgery. Any thoughts or others with experience on this?

  15. Dianne July 17, 2009 at 5:25 am #

    Greg – we did a bunch of research on the TR procedure, in fact no surgeon/vet in SC performs this type of surgery. I contacted the doctor that invented and researched the TR. His name is Dr Cook and he works at the Univ of Missouri. He responded to me in less than 24 hours and he will provide you with a list of vets that have performed and purchased more than 5 kits. We drove 2-3 hours away for the TR procedure. That was after talking to several vets regarding the differences between the TR & TPLO. That would be the best suggestion for you. It was worth the trip to have the TR completed and it cost less that $1K.

    • ana August 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

      who did the surgery for $1000?

  16. Cindy July 17, 2009 at 6:19 pm #

    My beautiful Sofie, a 1 year old golden retriever has the luxating patella and is currently spending the nite at the vet after her exam, which she had to be sedated for. Tomorrow I have to pick her up and hear the Dr.’s plan. So worried for her, and I’m afraid I won’t beable to afford the cost of a surgery. I have been unemployed and have depleted my savings. I also raise a grandson who is 6 – they are 2 peas in a pod, wild and crazy together, the ball never gets a rest! How does a person even keep a dog still enough to heal? After she was fixed she jumped up on the bed first thing, (the rule was no jumping for so long). Just praying for her and missing her. The Dr. said “not to worry – you’ll have the nite off”. Well it’ll be a sleepless nite without my Sofie. Pray for us please!

  17. David July 20, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    Hello Diane, Who was the vet that did the TR procedure for under $1,000.? I am geting quotes for my yellow lab at 2,800 to $3,500.

    I’ll drive 12 hours to save $1,800 Dollars.

  18. Jenny Sherman July 20, 2009 at 8:58 pm #

    My 1 1/2 year old Golden has torn her left hind ACL abd we have seen several ortho surgeons and they say the TPLO is out only choice. She is able to walk toe-touching but we are restricting movement to in-house and lease potty breaks. But she is going nuts. She wants to run so badly. ew are trying to avoid surgery if possible but not getting a good word about that. We haven’t been told about the TR but reaad about it. We prefer the less inasive procedure so the TR may be the right one for us. She only weighs 60 ounds but is very active. I can’t imagine what the recuperation period will be like. We use Quiet Momments right now to calm her a bit. Do you know any surgeons in the IRVINE, CA area who do the TIGHTROPE procedure? Is surgery absolutely necessary? HELP>>>>>

  19. Darren S. July 22, 2009 at 9:34 am #

    Jenny,
    If you email Dr. James Cook (cookjl@missouri.edu), he will get back to you regarding potential local vets/hospitals who do the tightrope procedure. He is the Vet credited with developing this method of ligament repair.

    My 8yr old Lab mix is going for a consult this afternoon, as he tore his knee 2wks ago. What I like about the place we are going is that they do ALL the types of knee repair – Tightrope, traditional, TTA, and TPLO. I don’t like the potential conflict since many Vets that perform TPLO/TTA have invested $$ to enable them to do so.

  20. Michael T. August 3, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    We had the TR procedure performed on our 3 year old Golden Retriever (100 lb. male) in Jan 09. The surgeon was Dr. Kumar (Dr. Cook recommended him) at ABC Pet Hospital ( http://petsfact.com/Veterinarians/Cypress-ABCAnimalHospital-19203.php ) in Cypress. He did very well after the surgery, but has since developed a secondary meniscus injury to the same stifle. We have been trying to heal it non-surgically with restriction, but not sure it’s working. Anyone have non-surgical success with a meniscus injury?

  21. Christy A. August 10, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    My dog had a TPLO surgery three years ago. She recently tore her other ACL and we are considering the Tightrope procedure. Does anyone have a dog that has had both the TPLO and the Tightrope? If so, will you please share anything and everything about it… we just want to make the very best choice. Thank you!

  22. shannon August 16, 2009 at 1:06 pm #

    I am looking for an inexpensive/good doctor to perform the TR procedure for my 4 year old black lab mix. I live in WV and am willing to travel up to 5 hours. Any suggestions?

    Thank you

  23. Claudia August 19, 2009 at 9:40 pm #

    My Black Lab Mix ruptured her left cranial cruciate ligament December 2007. We opted for the Stifle-TPLO since she was only 3 years old, very active and hopefully has many years to go. The first 2 weeks went by pretty slow and we had to keep her sedated/kenneled (she loves her kennel) most of that time due to her wanting to get up and play with her sister so desperately. She has a high tolerance for pain so she tends to get herself in trouble if we don’t watch closely. She was right on target with post surgery healing and rehabilitation. I think her leg is actually better than original due to her leg structure. The Surgery has given that leg strength and stability that she didn’t have before. We were so grateful to have found the right Facility and Surgeon http://www.vsasurgery.com. We live in the SF Bay Area and it cost us close to $5000. It’s now August 2009 and we just found out that she needs the right side done, which we were informed would most likely happen. Although we are not looking forward to the recuperation time, we certainly are looking forward to many years of never having to worry about her knees again and most important having a happy, pain free dog that can run, play and jump to her hearts content.

  24. Darren S. September 4, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    We had the tightrope surgery performed at VOSM (http://www.vetsportsmedicine.com/) in MD and it went well. Max never even had to wear that ridiculous collar, even when the bandage came off after 5 days. It certainly helped that the vet used internal stitches and the wound was completely closed by the end of the week. It has been a little over a month and I’d say he is already doing better than he was prior to surgery. We just went back for the follow-up visit/x-rays and everything was A-OK! He’s already going on 20min walks with our other dog and can pee standing on the “bad” leg. VOSM was NOT cheap ($3k), but we were paying for the expertise/experience of the surgeon (Peter Lotsikas) whose done a ton of BOTH types of operations.

  25. Jan K. September 14, 2009 at 5:31 am #

    My 20 month, 115 lb. Akita Kau is scheduled for TPLO next week. I am hearing a lot about TR and have emailed Dr. Cook for vet recommendations (that you very much for that advice!). I am so concerned about both procedures, as Kau is very active. His leg is already limp and he puts no weight on it whatsoever so I’d say surgery is a must. But which one??? It seems both are expensive (our vet – $4500 for TPLO in So. Ca.) and it’s very upsetting to hear that his other knee could blow out in the future. I’m extremely worried that he won’t be able to walk/run normally after he recovers from surgery. The cost isn’t the issue (even though the cost seems out of this world!), I just want my happy dog back – he has been depressed and it’s only been a week. I can’t imagine 10 weeks or more if him laying around…if anyone has good info about TPLO vs. TR, please let me know…thanks for this site!

  26. Sharon September 14, 2009 at 6:29 am #

    My 1 yr. 9 month old golden retriever, Grady, has ruptured his left cranial cruciate ligament. He went into the water to retrieve a stick and came out limping. We will be traveling out of state for family reasons and have put off the surgery until we get back. I am still researching all of the different methods of treatment. The ortho surgeon here does the TTA. I just want him back to normal and enjoying life again. I too am sleeping on the floor or couch. I am waiting for a call from the vet, as I believe he is depressed as he is not eating this morning. I have put up his toys that cause him to swing them and jump around. He is one very sad dog and so is his owner.

  27. don spratt September 14, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    I,m looking for someone who does TR for our dog Abby she is 47 LBS Queensland healer we live in Simi Valley, Ventura county California she has had TPLO done on back leg 3 years ago and we have Patella forward movement. TR was recommended to fix problem. We are on a budget.
    Thanks Don

  28. Stephanie September 16, 2009 at 6:51 am #

    I have a almost 2 year old Great Dane, who about a year ago hurt her knee, she had a limp but puts weight on it. She is so rambunctious I have a hard time keeping her calm and she is so huge even for a dane. I believe she hurt it when she slipped running in some mud.
    we have seen different vets and they all agree its not torn, well at least
    not fully, yet. She was on prednisone for awhile with no improvement, then on pain meds awhile with no improvement. Now I have her on joint supplements. She has went back and forth for the last year being normal to lame off and on. The vets we have seen dont know whats wrong and want to do a $3000 MRI which I cannot afford, she will likely need surgery on top of this so I’d rather spend that $ on the surgery instead, we just need to find a vet who knows what they are talking about, I have already wasted so much time and money on vets who have no idea what they are talking about and are clueless with this. Any ideas what could be the issue? Now lately I think arthritis is setting in as the knee is getting hard and swollen which it never was but she still has full movement and puts weight on it. Does anyone have any joint supplement recommendations that have helped their dogs, I know there are lots of scam products out there and many of the more legit products on the market have recently been found to not have any of the vitamins/supplements even in them!
    Because of her size would she have to have the TPLO surgery or could she get
    the tightrope?

    I am looking for a good vet in Michigan (SE to Mid MI, any recommendations???

  29. Pati September 21, 2009 at 6:05 am #

    Yes there is a great vet in Michigan. The Warren animal Clinic in Warren seems to have a handle on CCl surgeries if it needs to be done. Go to http://www.warrenanimalclinic.com or contact them. My dog needs surgery so I am online trying to find out about all the different surgeries. BEST OFLUCK TO YOU, let me know how things work out

  30. Selma September 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    Hi,
    I need to find a Vet/surgeon that perform TR in NY metro area, Queens, Long Island, brooklyn…even weschester area it is fine, I’ll travel. my dog is 60 lbs, has partially torn ligament for the last 6 months, I put off the surgery because I was dealing with my own health problems, now I have to take care of her and need to find a good surgeon.
    I have been to a surgeon that only perfom the traditional and TLCO have asked 3.000 and 4.000 respectively. Thank you!

  31. Darren S. October 3, 2009 at 5:46 am #

    So far VERY happy with Max’s TR procedure. It’s been 10wks and you would not know he had ever torn his ACL except that in the morning he is a little stiff and he can’t go up the stairs at 60mph (don’t want him doing that yet, anyway!).
    Plays tug of war with his 80lb sister just like he used to.

    I have to say that in the days leading up to the surgery, I was having second thoughts, but now I am confident we made the right decision and glad we went with the Vet and location we chose (VOSM), even though they are $$. They work ONLY on ortho stuff for dogs and people come from all over, plus they do a lot of “working” professional dogs.

  32. Susan October 4, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    Daren, how did you choose TR over TPLO on your lab? Was it your decision or the doctor’s? I have an 80 lb. yellow lab with a torn CCL. We are trying to decide which surgery is best. The doctor has recommended the TPLO but I like the idea of the less invasive TR.

    Susan in Fort Worth, TX

  33. Colleen October 8, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    I have a 75 lb golden retriever Molly and am leaning towards the TightRope over TTA/TPLO as it is much less invasive. (I’ve done quite a bit of research) I’ve now seen 2 vets in the Denver Colorado area. First gave me an estimate of $2100 and the second today was $3900 for the same TightRope surgery. Didn’t realize there could be that vast a range. Anyone in the Denver area have any vets to recommend that do the TR? Don’t know which one to trust now. One seems very low… the other very high.

  34. Kim October 9, 2009 at 10:46 am #

    I have a year and a half old lab mix. They told me yesterday she needs surgery for her torn ligament. I do not know what to do! We cannot afford the $3500 they want to make her better. We just do not have the money. The surgeon wants to do the TPLO proceedure. We love her but not sure where to turn. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  35. Darren S. October 10, 2009 at 7:01 am #

    Susan,
    I chose the TR over TPLO for a few reasons. As you mentioned, was it’s a much less invasive procedure. I personally didn’t like the idea of cutting bone and re-inventing the knee. I’m sure it works, but not keen on the concept, let alone the fact that Vets have to “sell” a lot of TPLO’s in order to pay for the “privilege” of performing this patented procedure. The office where I took my dog performs ALL methods of CCL repair, so I didn’t feel there was a conflict of interest. Dr. Lotsikas performed Max’s surgery and he’s performed hundreds of TPLO’s but was excited that I was leaning towards the TR, as he had also participated in the results-study for TR, done many of them, and thought that my dog would be a good candidate for either.

    The TR is basically the same CCL repair method that’s been used forever, only it uses the same high-strength material that’s used on humans for (typically) ankle repair.

    My dog, though 8yrs old, is quite active and is a bit high-strung. I get up, he gets up, he likes to go on long walks, and plays a serious tug-of-war with his bully-breed sis. Just 2 months after the surgery, he is doing all of this like nothing ever happened. I have to say I didn’t confine him at any point, either, except to make sure he didn’t have access to stairs (for the first few weeks). I didn’t use the Queen Anne collar on him, either. The 4″ incision was just covered by a bandage, and by the time the bandage fell off, the wound was completely closed (internal stitches helped greatly), so he never bothered it. He goes for his final checkup in early Nov.

  36. Darren S. October 10, 2009 at 7:08 am #

    Kim,
    We put almost the entire bill on a credit card. Also, there seems to be a range on the cost of the procedure, somethimes being closer to the $2k range rather than over $3k. Email Dr. Cook and he will give you a few (hopefully) local places that perform the TR, so maybe the cost will be less than the $3500 you mentioned.

    Also, I’m no expert, but you could also wait 3-6 months, putting aside whatever you can to put towards the surgery.

  37. Julie October 24, 2009 at 8:55 pm #

    I have a highly active boxer. He already has a plate in his leg because he broke his femur bone as a puppy. So the thought of him needing surgery again is making me crazy. He was restricted for a very long 6 or 8 months with follow up appointmetns and all that fun stuff. But in any case I am looking for someone who has had the tightrope procedure a while back and has an active dog over 55 lbs. I would like to feel better about this not failing later down the road. But I really do not want to do the TPLO or other invasive one just sounds too bad and scary. Also if they can tell me the down time after the Tightrope procedure that would be great. Thanks so much Julie & Whitee

  38. Sharan M. December 4, 2009 at 8:06 am #

    Hello Darren S. and Susan

    I have a 6 yr. old yellow female lab, approx. 55 lbs. She has been (primnarily) diagnosed with Patella Luxation-Medial to her right rear knee. I am currently exploring options to surgery for the same reason that Darren cited on Oct. 10th. (re-inventing knee). My lab is extremely high-strung and also follows me everywhere. Her injury occurred two weeks ago while playing ball. My vet recommended, no more strenuous activity, plenty of rest and indicated that surgery would likely be necessaary if the luxation continued to re-occur. Given that we live in Canada, and, with winter fast approaching, I was hoping to defer any surgery until spring. Unfortunately, she has had three re-occurances in the past week just walking from one room to another. I am (with my vet’s approval) currently using a tenser bandage (for humans) and have started her on Glucosamine Suflate (500 mg. twice daily) with the hope that if the ligaments are inflamed/stretched, and, if/when heeled, will help to hold the knee (patella) in place until spring (5-6 months from now).

    My questions to you both or anyone else reading this are,

    1) what do you think the chances are of post-poning surgery for 6 months?
    2) are there any soft support devices (for dogs) that you are aware of that would assist in holding the tensor bandage in place, or, used as an alternative? I have in mind a type of support hose that people with varicose veins would use.

    Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated.

  39. pam December 10, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    Hi, I have a 2 year old field trial lab that trains and competes , She only shows a slight favor or stretching when she comes out of her crate,she does not have any outward signs swelling or being able to move that knee back and forth,the vets can not feel anything but the xrays show some fluid there and they say that that is a sign that she needs surgery costing $3500-3800 in Wisconsin and that there is a 50-60percent chance she will need that on the other leg,she is a very active dog and very talented ,what are her chances of continuing her career after surgery? This is ahard choice to make ,so many peaple so many different answers,most of them are very expensive and the thought of cutting my 2 yearold much loved dog brings tears to myeyes every day.What do you do?

  40. Darren S. December 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

    Hi Sharan,

    My Max actually had torn his tendon, so he was basically hopping around on 3 legs most of the time (although it was surprising how well he could get around!). He was like this for a good month prior to the actual surgery. I’m no Dr, but I would bet that waiting until spring wouldn’t be a big deal, provided that the dog isn’t in obvious extreme discomfort. When the Dr. operates, he is going to fix the problem and I would assume he/she would scrape out any arthritic build up should it occur in that time lapse. Max actually also had some Meniscus (sp?) damage that I think is sort of a collateral injury as a result of the knee joint being unstable from the initial injury. Perhaps this might occur/worsen if your dog moves the wrong way on the bum knee??

    Don’t know if it matters, but all of my dogs have been on Cosequin for at least 5yrs.

    Max had his final checkup last month and I am really happy with the outcome (except the hurt it put on my wallet!). He was actually offleash today and did a short 50yd run just like his old self, which put a smile on my face. I’d say that 4mo. after the TR procedure, he is at 90% of his pre-surgical abilities, and I’d bet that as he continues to get back the full musculature of the bum leg, he will get to 100%.

  41. Darren S. December 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm #

    Hi Pam,

    My $0.02 are to get another opinion from a qualified Dr. Some fluid in the knee joint shouldn’t be a call to rush into surgery, IMHO. My Max didn’t have any noticeable swelling, though the Vet was able to manipulate the knee and see that there was some movement in the joint that shouldn’t be there. The thing is, the surgeon I went to pretty much does nothing other than orthopedic procedures, so he’s seen blown out knees of varying severity hundreds of times and knew exactly what to look for. Even though my “regular” vet is quite competent and initially thought Max had torn his cruciate, I would not have had the surgery done based only upon her diagnosis, any more than I would submit myself to surgery based on my GP’s recommendation.

  42. frank aremia December 20, 2009 at 4:33 am #

    hello..i live in michigan and my dog is in need of surgery on her torn legiment..iam totally confused as to what procedure to do and the vast difference in costs which is unreal.
    my dog is a mixed breed..lab ..shep..i think..12 year old 55 lbs…very active and can;t walk off our deck..always want to run after anything ..any help in the michigan area for affordable help? thanks

  43. Jack M January 21, 2010 at 3:01 am #

    Hi, here is a website that should help you with your choice of tlpo tr or no surgery. I decided on the tight rope and my 114 rott is glad I did. just google … torn dog ligament is surgery really needed… btw tightrope surgery in columbus ne. is $1,500 and this includes a 5-6 hospital stay after the op. the vets name is jim kramer. good luck to everyone. hope this helps.

  44. Mark January 28, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Our 4-year-old Mastiff, Maggie, was having trouble getting up and down and would stop and lie down on our walks. I suspected hip problems, but my vet said it was actually a knee issue and recommended surgery. Went for a second opinion to another vet who agreed, saying we might be able to get by with just one knee which was obviously worse than the other. Was $700 in so far for xrays, meds, diagnosis, etc, and we opted for the TPLO surgery which was done 2 weeks ago. (Surgery was $2850 in Orange County, CA). First couple of days of recovery were kind of hard…had to help Maggie outside and she wasn’t very happy, but by about day 3, she was walking around almost normally. I’ve allowed her to get on her favorite sofa which is just a little step up for her, as opposed to a jump. She’s not a very active dog, so keeping her quiet isn’t too hard. She seems to want to go for walks again, but will wait for the OK from the vet. Also, vet said she could afford to lose some weight which would also help her knees…So far, she’s down from 151 to 143 after about 2 months of dieting. Vet was very happy about that today, too. Surgeon said the ligament was completely ruptured, but that he didn’t think the other one was. He did, say, tho, that the other one would likely rupture as well. If/when it does, assuming Maggie is still relatively young, I’d probably go ahead and fix it, as well.

  45. marsha February 11, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    My dog is a border collie mix, 32 pounds and has a ruptured ACL. I’ve been told by one doctor that they do the standard operation for $3500 and another the TR, for $2600. Can anyone tell me if my dog, because of his size, would be a candidate for TR surgery? It seems like all the dogs referred to above are over 50lbs. Thanks

  46. slharbi March 2, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    Ok So I want to make sure everyone understands what others are saying.

    For dogs that are larger breeds the TPLO is better because a TR is likely to tear again.

    We came to thsi conclusion also and I don’t want to take a chance on having to have surgery again. Not worth the money or time.

  47. Dpepperluvr March 9, 2010 at 8:09 am #

    My dog, Franny, had the tightrope procedure 3 1/2 weeks ago and is doing great! She is an 8 year old 47 lb. lab mix and very active. I did a lot of research and found the tightrope procedure was the least invasive and geared toward active dogs. So far, so good. We had the procedure done in Northridge, CA at Porter Pet Hospital by a travelling surgeon, Jack Henry. He was referred to us by the originator of the surgery as well as the hospital. We paid $2400 for the surgery, $840 for the hospital, anesthesia,etc., and about $500 for x-rays and such. So, overall, it was close to $4000. Franny’s spirits are great! She has been using her leg since about the 2nd week after the surgery. She can only go outside on a leash – no running or playing around for about 4 more weeks. I will keep you posted more about her recovery as she continues to heal. We are very pleased at this point! :)

  48. Mark March 18, 2010 at 7:59 am #

    Well…Maggie recovered very nicely from her TPLO…was feeling REALLY good, I guess, so she decided to blow out the other knee a couple of days ago…Not putting any weight on that leg now. So, she’s got an appointment for ANOTHER TPLO. This one should be a little less, costly, though….don’t need the pre-op Xrays, and I’ve already got the collar and sling. Not looking forward to another recovery, BUT will be very happy when she has four good wheels.

  49. Lisa March 23, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    Does anyone know a vet in the pittsburgh area that does tightrope ccl? I will travel far, but I want that procedure, not to be mistaken by the vets that are using fishing line, that is not good for large breed dogs and I have a bull mastiff. thanks for any info.

  50. Dpepperluvr April 8, 2010 at 7:58 am #

    Hi Lisa,

    If you contact the surgeon who invented the surgery, James Cook at cookjl@missouri.edu, he will send you a list of vets who have been trained using the tightrope procedure in your area. He was very personable and got back to me the next day.

    My dog, Franny, is doing amazing! It will be 8 weeks tomorrow and we have officially let her roam free. She is one happy camper!!!

  51. Mark June 1, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    Maggie’s recovering very nicely from her second TPLO. 6-week xrays look great and we’ve started our walks again. Seems much happier and not limping at all… just a little gimpy when she first gets up, kinda like me. A lilttle over 6 grand for the 2 surgeries (Orange County, CA) but money well spent. Great to see our dog acting like a puppy again.

  52. Lisa August 22, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    My 140 pound bull mastiff had both
    Knees done with the tightrope,The two
    Surgeries were about 10 months apart.
    I live in the Pittsburgh area, I drove to clarion
    Animal hospital to have Dr. Mehta do the
    Procedure. He did a great job on both
    Knees, I know a lot of vets will tell you
    That tr won’t work for big dogs… They are
    Wrong, dr Mehta is amazing and only
    Charged under 2000.00 total..including
    Rockys rechecks…rocky has really bad
    Genes… He was a puppy mill puppy from
    Petland store, (no I did not buy a puppy in
    A petstore , I rescued him from the people
    That purchased him) he has put on some
    Weight since his last surgery but the tightrope
    Is holding up perfectly. Just make sure your dr
    Knows how to do the tr properly… If you are
    Anywhere in the Pittsburgh area, do yourself
    And your dog a favor and go to clarion animal
    Hospital and ask for Dr Mehta

  53. Mark August 31, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    My mastiff mix, Maggie is 170 pounds…Over 2 years since having both knees done and still doing great…getting “up there” at almost 7 years old, but we walk every day and she’s had NO bad effects from either surgery. Still money well-spent.

  54. Christy A. August 31, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    We have had the TPLO and the TR done on our 85 lb. Olde English Bulldog. The TPLO was first and was over $5000 when it was all said and done. It was a terrible recovery. The TR was around $1500 and the recovery was simple, natural, and way better for our dog. If the TR is basically what is done on humans, then it is strong enough for a dog. It has been four years since the TR and we have had no problems. The leg with the TPLO is doing great too, but it seems stiffer. It is so tough to watch your dog suffer. Find a vet that truly cares for your pet and not just a pay check, or the latest advances in veterinary medicine. Good luck with everything.

  55. Lorrie September 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    Does anyone know of a vet in Florida that will do Tight Rope surgery for $1,000-$1,500 range? My 7 year old 78 pound American Bulldog needs ACL surgery, I got a quote for $2,500 but cannot afford that much. I live near Daytona Beach

  56. ana September 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    Does anyone know a vet in NJ that peforms tight rope?

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