Conservative Management and TPLO Surgery – Benito

I came across the blog here while racking my brain, feeling like its spiraling into a hole that seems like a never ending nightmare of complete guilt and negligence with no ending in sight.

My blue pitbull, Benito, (2yrs. old) started limping off and on just before Christmas 2012. It is on his left leg, but soon after getting up walking for a moment he seems to be fine. I thought it was just maybe his leg was asleep from laying on it all night, he’s 85lbs sheer muscle, so I came home one day and he came to the fence like always. I said “something’s not right today, so we went in and it’s hurting a lot now.

We went to the vet, and he said there was some inflammation, and wanted to take a picture to get a better look at it. He vet came back and said he damaged his ACL (explained it as the same thing Adrian Peterson of the Vikings did to his knee), but that the good news is he doesn’t think it will need surgery. The vet said to keep him off of the leg for 3 weeks unless outside for potty breaks, and gave me anti inflammatory, pain meds, and some sedation pills. My dog is a runner and will play 24-7, he doesn’t care, anytime anyplace anywhere, so he’ll need the meds! After 3 weeks, if he’s still limping, he will probably need surgery, which was quoted at $800.

It has now been 3 weeks since his injury, and while he’s not limping as bad as he was, I can still tell his leg is just not stable. He will hop on his right leg once in a while when I take him out for potty. I am still keeping him on the leash because I know he wants to just break free and go bolting off in his huge back yard, but I cant let him do that.

I took him back to the vet yesterday, because I feel that something is still not right in his knee, but it does not seem to hurt him a whole lot. The other vet that we had seen was unavailable, so we saw a different vet, perhaps one of their surgeons, who came in and said it looks like, according to his x-ray, that he did damage his ACL. I was then presented with 2 options – the Extracapsular repair for $1200, and the TPLO for $3000-$3500.

The first type of surgery (the Extracapsular repair) is the one they do at their office, and the second one (TPLO) is performed by a board certified veterinarian at another location. Now I am just freakin’ out (trying not to start cussing myself out in the vet office), and I asked which the vet preferred – she says the TPLO. She then went on to explain that they require full payment, or Care Credit, (which I wont be applying for), but then she says they both have a 95% success rate either way you go. What I understand is that the TPLO recovery time is faster, while the Extracapsular Repair is long time.

I come home and started my online quest for answers, even if just for to help or to seek comfort for the time being. I came across a vet who only specializes in surgeries, so in a attempt to seek some relief I call the doctor, who has been around for years doing tons of procedures on every kind of animal out there. I start telling him my issues, and talking to him like he’s my paid therapist – anyway, he says it’s still gonna be around $2900 for the TPLO. He also said that the other surgery (Extracapsular or Traditional Repair) would eventually tear out, leaving me right where I was from Day 1. I’d like to say thank you to him, as now I feel I have gotten some mental relief. Someone must have sent some luck my way, because the phone rang and it’s the specialty vet I just spoke to saying he want to help me and he understands whats going on, and the best we can do for my baby benito is the TPLO for around $2000, but he will need the full payment upon completion of the surgery. He then tells me to call a vet he knows close to where I live, and tell the vet to call him so he can set the procedure up at his office (closer to where I live, rather than having to travel so far to his office).

Now I am like a freshly recharged patient who is prepared to take on his upcoming weeks obstacles – for now I am keeping Benito indoors in his little room until we get the surgery done around the 1st February. Thanks for listening, and I will keep everyone updated!

12 thoughts on “Conservative Management and TPLO Surgery – Benito

  1. Hey there,
    My boxer pit mix just had extrascapular repair done on her leg just last week.. She had her surgery at 9am and was back home with me by 2:30.. And so far she is doing wonderful.. About a year ago she had torn her other knee and I opted for conservative management but New Year’s Eve when she came up limping I knew exactly what it was and went ahead with the surgery…

    Do your research before you make any decisions… I’ve heard both good and bad things about TPLO.. I feel confident in the surgery Zoe had last week.. She was bearing weight on the leg on the third day.. The hardest part is keeping her quiet because she wants to run 90 to nothing… My vet does the extrascapular repair on dogs all the time and seems to have good success with it…

    1. My poor pup is in a similar situation as poor Benito. He was diagnosed with a cranial cruciate ligament and the vet discussed all three sergical options with us. We decided to take the conservative route for now, so keeping our fingers crossed. However, if all fails, we will proceed with surgery and are considering the extrascapular surgery (least invasive). The ony problem, most vets recommend the surgery for dogs under 70pounds. My brown nose pit is 6 yrs old and weights 75 pounds, so I am a little hesitant that the technique won’t hold up as he is also very active.
      How many pounds is your boxer pit? Are you happy with the results and how much did you pay for the surgery?

      Thanks in advance for the feedback!

      1. Oh Gosh, I’m sorry I didn’t reply to you sooner.. My Boxer pit weighs 65 pounds and the vet did tell me that she needed to lose some weight because it would be better for her joints.. she has lost about 5 pounds in the 6 weeks since surgery..

        The surgery cost me about 1200 and that was with the xrays.. her recovery has gone quite well and she took to her crate or rather exercise pen right away. I had never in my life crated her before.. so I bought an x pen from petsmart for about 80.00 and set it up in a spare bedroom.. 6 weeks post op and you would never know she had surgery except for once in a while she will hold her leg up for a second.. keeping her quiet has been the worst part and I’ve been a little more free with her activity in the last week.. I think I need to maybe curb that for a couple of weeks because I don’t want her to injure herself again

  2. Reading these blogs has put our minds at rest…somewhat. We have a 26 month GSD called Roman and he is full of energy, passion and pride!! Like Benito, he too injured his leg 2 months ago. At first he suffered from occasional lameness so we thought it was a twist or sprain. You would never know he had an injury when he was walking or running around in the yard. However, the lameness was not going away and in our hearts we knew he was in pain and not right. A visit to the vet filled us with hope that it was just a sprain but the news we were not expecting hit us like a hammer blow!! He had ruptured his cruciate ligament and immediate surgery was required..what, why how…..we were so upset & overwhelmed! Having had time to reflect, do some research on these injuries, we now have more knowledge and confidence that Roman should have the surgery, even though its $4k!! We love our boy Roman and want him to have a top quality life, if surgery is the best fix and long term solution then surgery it is.
    Thanks

    1. I agree. My boy is only 19 months old and I’m opting for surgery on both knees, his other is not lame yet, but showing signs of beginning arthritis and fluid.
      We are an active family, and I want him to be able to have an active life rather than a life of restricted activity in order to prevent an injury.

      According to my vet, the problem is the confirmation of straight hind legs…it puts the strain of support on the ligaments instead of the muscle where it should be…so, the only solution is to change the angle of the knee to a correct confirmation, or the leg will be unstable for their lifetime with risk of tearing. Basically, a life of frustration and pain from arthritis vs. corrective surgery. The cost is astronomial, so we are considering Boo as being our collective birthday and Christmas presents for the next few years!

  3. Dear Jen,

    My poor pup is in a similar situation as poor Bonito. He was diagnosed with a cranial cruciate ligament and the vet discussed all three sergical options with us. We decided to take the conservative route for now, so keeping our fingers crossed. However, if all fails, we will proceed with surgery and are considering the extrascapular surgery (least invasive). The ony problem, most vets recommend the surgery for dogs under 70pounds. My brown nose pit is 6 yrs old and weights 75 pounds, so I am a little hesitant that the technique won’t hold up as he is also very active.
    How many pounds is your boxer pit? Are you happy with the results and how much did you pay for the surgery?

    Thanks in advance for the feedback!

    1. We just suffered through a horrible year with a CCL tear and we did traditional repair and it was a complete failure, only the vet who did it kept saying it would get better. It didn’t and it wouldn’t have.

      For that reason, I will no longer recommend traditional repair – it might seem least invasive, but it’s very difficult to do correctly.

      We did TPLO as a revision 7 weeks ago – night and day difference.

      I’m so glad my guy has his life back.

      Absolutely no regrets about TPLO at all. It’s given my dog his life back.

      (And gave me back mine too)

  4. We were faced with this problem 2 yrs ago. Our 65lb pitbull Angel came in from a hot run & wrestling match with our other dog in the yard (her favorite passtime) with her left rear leg dangling in the air. Because she is crate trained, I put her on bedrest and anti-inflamatory meds. 3 days later there was barely any progress with using the leg & we went to the vet. Same options were given to us, including waiting for a traveling specialist to come in to our vet for the surgery.

    After research online, I drove her an hour away to VCA AllCare in Fountain Valley, after learning they do MANY of these proceedures every month. The specialist explained the TPLO was the only permanent fix, at $3000. I have 2 kids & a pile of bills, but I couldnt look at my 2yr old AWESOME dog and deny her this fix. I was also told when large breed dogs tear an ACL they are likely to require repair the the OTHER knee sometime later. I took the risk, opened a Care Credit acct and made the payments over 12 months, and have her on daily glucosamine indefinately.

    Weeks of quarantine in the crate from the other dog, only going out to potty with a sling and my assistance, and IT WORKED!!! Not only did it repair the knee, but she recovered without a limp and months later was back to her old self. Her leg is sturdy and muscle tone came back to match the other leg.

    A few months ago she blew her OTHER knee. We are working the meds and rest but will have to proceed with another surgery.

    My advice to anyone in this situation with a powerful muscular dog: expect to fix both knees = $6K. Budget the cost even after the 1st TPLO to be prepared for the inevitable. Every large breed owner I have met with TPLO experience has had to fix both knees. The ExCap is not recommended for powerful breeds. Sadly I have met 2 pitbull owners who elected to put their pets down, 1st dog the damaged knee got worse and 2nd dog was nearly lame after hurting the other “good” knee & prior repair wasnt sturdy enough to support the weight.

    It is amazing how strong her TPLO knee is. I strongly recommend oru VCA AllCare for this surgery!!!

  5. Great story and great advice Michelle. Curious as to Angel’s age with her first tear.

    TPLO has done wonders on my dog – we will be at 8 weeks in two days. He’s done 100% better than he did with traditional repair.

    He gets stronger every single day. Woo hop!

    1. Angel was almost 2yrs old to the day when she had surgery.

      It was at 3 months post-op I had to remind myself to watch her more carefully, because aside from a scar, I would forget she ever had the injury!!!

      We have a long-term care plan to keep her on all 4 feet. She likes to stand up & wrestle, or stand to look up on the high planter – and the surgeon told us this is a danger to her other knee. Basically, her TPLO knee is stronger than the original, but she had developed a habit of leaning with more weight on the other “good” leg. So now that she hurt the one we did not operate on, she can stand very sturdy on her repaired leg to favor it when it is sore. I don’t want to wait, but it will be another month before we can afford the surgery and stay home to properly keep her crated and assisted to potty after surgery.

      The most amazing part for me was how easily she handled being in the crate and not playing for weeks after her surgery. She didnt get grumpy about it at all, even when the other dog was running all over the house!

      1. 8 weeks after TPLO surgery, x-rays yesterday showed no bone healing. My Vet wants to x-ray again at 12 weeks. Have others had this experience?

        1. Domino had that problem when the screws holding the plate on his initial TPLO loosened. Any movement will prevent the initial bone healing. The screws have to be absolutely tight. Our vet went back in and added an external stabilizer to lock the surgery down, and it worked. (Domino’s story is all over the Facebook page!) Another possibility is infection….diet also plays a role…Domino produced bone much faster when I was giving him a handful of 4mo old puppy treats every day. He is nine-ish (rescue so we don’t know exact age) but the treats gave him the extra nutrients to rebuild that bone.

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