Bilateral Tightrope Surgery, Day 1 – Edgar

Day one after bilateral tightrope surgery.

We found a vet (Dr. Kelly) in Byron MN, near Rochester who has done about 90 Tightrope repairs. He also does TTA and TPLO. The name of his clinic is Meadow View.

Why Tightrope ACL Surgery?

We decided on Tightrope as it is much much less invasive and has about the same failure/complication rate as the other options, BUT if anything goes wrong it can be fixed (which is most times not the case with the other options).

We chose to do both legs at the same time for numerous reasons:

  • He will only have to go through recovery and rehab once
  • He will not have to put all of his rear weight on one rear leg that is painful and susceptible to further damage
  • We are able to take time off of work to be home with him

What is the cost of tightrope surgery?

The surgery took about three and a half hours. Total for both legs including pre-surgery blood work, 3 meds, food to hide the pills in, wound cleaner, and joint supplement pills for 2 months was $3500. There will not be a charge for the post exam or removal of the staples.

Recovery after Tightrope surgery

When we picked Edgar up he was doped up. He was all but asleep while being carried out to the car and lost control of his bladder just before getting in. He slept the entire hour and a half home. We carried him in and laid him on puppy pads and cleaned the pee off his leg. He slept until we took him outside (took two of us, a sling and a harness with a handle) he did go pee. We laid him on his opposite leg and applied ice (peas) for about 5 mins.

The incisions are 6″ long, there is about 2-3″ of slight bruising around the wound that looks dark red. Swelling is not very noticeable. There is a reddish-clear fluid we are noticing on the puppy pads and this is normal. He was shivering quite a bit (normal as the surgery meds lower body temp); we covered him with a blanket to keep him warm. He also was sort of cough/huffing every so often and a grayish brown mucus was present. This is normal due to the tube that was in his airway. This stopped altogether by evening.

I suppose I should add that Edgar is a very large (125lbs) 2 year old American Bulldog. He is neutered. I think he first injured his right leg about 6 months ago, and the left a few months after that. Since conservative management worked so well with Emma (our 42 lb pitty) we tried it with him also, but due to his size – no dice.

I put his favorite toys near him and towards the end of the night he pawed at them. He also pawed at us which he does all the time (demands attention) so we viewed this as good.

The last time we took him out for the night he actually put some weight on his back legs and walked (in the sling) and did go pee.

My husband slept next to him on a sleeping bag as Edgar adores him and always wants to be by him. We also put an E collar on him just in case. He is so out of it I am justifying the spoiling today…

16 thoughts on “Bilateral Tightrope Surgery, Day 1 – Edgar

  1. That seems so reasonable. I have a 120lb Pyreness – Flat-Coated retriever who blew both knee and I can’t afford surgery. I have been on CM for 4 weeks and doing laser therapy and mega supplements. The quote I received were well over $4K for each knee.

    1. The price quotes seem to vary greatly depending on your geographic location and the size of the dog. Was the quote you received for doing both knees at the same time or during separate surgeries? It would seem that the price should be lower if they were doing both knees at the same time since the dog would only need to be anesthetized, prepped for surgery and receive meds for one procedure…

  2. HI:
    This is day 1 of Charlie’s tightrope operation on his rear right leg. Chara;ie is a ném GSP .My husband carried him to the car (all 83 lbs of him) yesterday noon, after him spending the night at the vet’s. We were unable to carry him outside, but after lying down for a while near the door, he got up and went to the door, we opened it and haltingly he hopped to the edge of the deck, my husband lifted him down and he did the longest pee ever! Carried him back up and that has been the system since then.
    We made up a bed in the living room from a cot mattress and sleeping bag, and my husband slept with him all night. He moaned and whined most of the night, my turn tonight! Unfortunately we have an open plan house and although we have the largest size vari-kennel, he does not have enough room to lie down or sit because his operated leg sticks straight out as if he was walking. He also had a poop this afternoon, ate his dinner and drank some water. Charlie has a bandage all the way from his foot to the end of his shaved bum!! We have been given antibiotics for him, twice a day with food, and a painkiller once a day. He goes back to have the bandage removed and the wound checked in one week`s time. Since he is already getting up and stumbling about, I am at my wits end to figure out how to contain him and make him rest. He would hate being confined to a bedroom. I must say I am amazed at how well my 4 year old GSP has been, apart from a lick on the cheek and a nuzzle, she has left him strictly alone! Smart dog.

    Now that I have let out my panic`and concerns, I realize this has been all about Charlie and not about Edgar!!

    We wish Edgar a very good recovery and I am anxious to follow along as both dogs are recovering at the same time, and we can exchange hints etc. Good luck and best wishes,
    Sheila and Bernie

    1. Please tell me more about physical therapy, recovery, and the pen/kennel facilities for recovery. Did the surgery work? My dog is having it Thursday!

  3. Where is the rest of the days? What happened next? What about physical therapy? A pen? A kennel? I have 110 lab and part mastiff thats having this surgery on Thursday. I need to know more about tightrope. It doesn’t sound permanent at all!

  4. Got home a few hours ago from the vet where my 3 yr old dog had double tightrope surgery. She was able to walk out of the vet with support from a sling.
    No appetite tonight and and barely drank any water. Tried taking her out once to pee but she wouldn’t go. It’s midnight now and I’m laying next to her. She has been sitting upright crying for the past 2 hours.
    I wish I could get her into a somewhat comfortable position so she could lay down. I feel so bad for her and I’m nervous about going to work on Monday . The vet said I could leave her in the bathroom for the day during the first week. I can come home at lunch but thats only for 15 minutes or so. Is it crucial to her recover that someone is around her at all times ??
    How should clean the two wounds?

    Is it unusual that she won’t drink any water?6 hour bck from the vet

  5. I had the same procedure done on our 70 lbs Golden retriever at Meadowview in Byron,MN. Can’t say that our experience was as good as yours. After 4 months the rope broke inside of the bone. And we were only doing minimal exercise. She had just starting walking. Good luck to Edgar. I hope the same thing doesn’t happen to him:(

    1. So sorry we never posted further info, had our hands full with Ed and kinda forgot about it. The surgery failed as the suture material loosened and the joints became unstable again. We ended up having a second surgery done to tighten them and went through the whole recovery process all over again. It was not successful. Our baby’s rear legs have wasted away to nothing and he hobbles around everywhere. He is happy though and we are just enjoying him for as long as we can…

    2. My golden retriever passed away in August of 2011. Not a day I don’t think about her. I often wonder if the stress of having 2 surgeries back to back contributed to her demise. She was only 8.

    3. So If I can ask, after it broke what did you do? What did Dr Kelly say about it?
      We just brought in Edgar and Dr Kelly told us the surgery was a success but he has no cartilage and his legs are bone on bone. He then tried to get us to do stem cell treatment. After looking into it I don’t think so.

      How did your dog do after the failure?

      1. We went to another veternarian who did the more invasive surgery TPLO? Sorry its been a couple years and I can’t remember. Kate developed thrombocytopenia which can be induced by stress. We had to put her down 3 weeks later.

  6. I feel the need to add that we also have a 42lb Pitty that also tore both of hers. We opted for conservative management. We did not allow her to jump or go up and down stairs for 8 weeks. We made a “potty area” on our deck with a shower pan and pea gravel. Thankfully she used it. We would flush it with a hose a few times a day.

    She is a smaller dog though and I believe got away without surgery for this reason. She is as good as new. One would never guess that she had this injury. Three years later she is 6 and no sign of arthritis at this point. I think due to us acting quick.

    If we had to do it again I am not sure that we would not have done the same thing with Edgar. It seemed like the best option for him. We tried…

  7. The tightrope procedure just seems to be more trouble than it’s worth. It seems like infections ran rampart because of the fiber that is put in (rather than wire or even fishing line). And if it’s not tied tight enough, then the knee will never be stable and scar tissue won’t form.

    That said, my dog experienced an ACL repair (fishing line) and I paid for a TPLO and my dog did fine.

    I was very disappointed at redoing the surgery (the dollars, the recovery) but to be honest, the TPLO has been a very easy recovery compared to the first surgery.

    I’ve been very happy and my dog has done great.

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