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The Cost Of Dog ACL Surgery In 2019

The Four Primary Surgical Procedures Available And Their Price Range Across Different Geographical Regions

The prices towards dog ACL surgery in America.

There are several different types of ACL surgery for dogs. The cost of each surgery varies significantly depending on the specific nature of the procedure. Not only is there a variance in cost depending on the type of surgery, but also on the experience and qualifications of the surgeon as well as where you live geographically.

Health care for pets is not regulated in the same capacity as it is for humans. This means that the cost of healthcare for pets in urban centers can be double the cost of veterinary surgical procedures in more rural areas.

Veterinary ACL surgical costs fluctuate greatly: Understanding the specific nature of each procedure will explain some of the cost variance. Unfortunately, depending on where you live could add thousands of dollars to your vet bill.

Ultimately, after discussing your options with your veterinarian you will need to choose the procedure that best serves the needs of your dog and your pocketbook.

What is ACL Surgery For Dogs: Four Primary Procedures

· Lateral Suture Technique or Extracapsular Repair
· Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)
· Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)
· Tight Rope Technique

The most common injury to dogs is a torn ACL, depending on your dog’s size, age, weight, and the unique circumstances of the tear your veterinarian will recommend one of the four primary types of surgeries that are performed on the hind knee joint.

The cranial cruciate ligament tear in the stifle (hind knee) of a dog is synonymous with an ACL tear in humans and makes up 85% of all orthopedic operations performed on dogs. The term ACL tear has been adopted colloquially for the purposes of referring to a tear in the stifle of a dog. For the purposes of this article ACL tears will be used to describe the injury affecting the hind knee of dogs.

As ACL surgery is the most common orthopedic procedure performed on dogs, several methods have been developed over the years. The procedure of each surgery varies significantly in the details that are performed on the hind knee of dogs. Each surgery requires a post-operative recovery period and will demand patience on behalf of both you and your dog. Understanding the details of what is performed during each of the procedures will better prepare you for the endeavor that awaits you.

The unique qualities of each procedure is associated with advantages and disadvantages and it is therefore important to discuss your options with your veterinarian to determine which will best suit you and your dog. Age, weight, size, activity level, the specific injury to the knee, and cost will play a contributing factor in what type of procedure you choose.

Lateral Suture Technique or Extracapsular Repair: This method has been performed on dogs for the longest period of time, it is the most common ACL surgery, and is generally considered to be the traditional approach. This surgery intends to restore stability to the hind joint by placing sutures outside of the joint. The placement of sutures outside of the knee joint mimics the normal activity of the ligament. A continuous monofilament (one fiber) nylon suture is placed around the fabella of the femur and is looped through a hole drilled into the tibial tuberosity. The two ends of the fishing line like sutures are held into place by a stainless steel clip.

The recovery period for this procedure will be roughly 12 weeks of attentive care and confinement. According to the American Association Of Veterinary Surgeons, there is a 90% success rate with this surgery. The first 12 weeks of post-operative care are crucial for the success of the surgery. Infection at the point of incision is the most common complication with this surgery and you as the owner will need to be attentive to keeping the site clean and iced regularly, as well as ensuring that your dog wears a cone around its collar to prevent aggravating the area.

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO): This procedure intends to change the dynamics of the injured knee substantially. Dr. Barclay Slocum developed this procedure and while it was originally considered as a radical approach, as years pass this surgery is becoming increasingly more common. As this procedure alters the angle, or grade, of the knee some believe the underlying problem of ACL joint ruptures is addressed.

You can probably recall that when you look at your dog from the side it appears that the hind knees are always bent. In fact, they are always bearing weight even while simply standing. TPLO surgery attempts to alleviate some of the pressure on the ligaments surrounding the joint by changing the angle of the knee itself. The tibial plateau is cut and rotated so that its slope changes to approximately five degrees from the horizontal plane. This rotation relieves the knee from prolonged weight bearing.

This procedure is more in depth than the traditional approach of the Lateral Suture Technique but will require less recovery time. You can expect that post-operative care will still last around 12 weeks. Physical therapy is important particularly with this surgery as your dog adjusts to the new angle of their knee joint.

Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA): This surgery varies from the aforementioned procedures because it does not address the ligament attaching to the knee joint, but rather changes the bone structure so that the ligament is no longer necessary for stabilization. A linear cut is made along the length of the front line of the tibia. The cut bone is moved forward and a bone spacer is placed in the open space between the tibia and tibial tuberosity. A stainless steel metal plate is secured to stabilize the bone. This procedure will keep the femur bone from sliding forward and therefore eliminates the need for an intact cranial cruciate ligament.

Post-operative recovery time is crucial and you as the owner will need to be prepared to make several lifestyle changes to accommodate the invasive surgery for your dog. Expect recovery time to last twelve months, knowing that the first four weeks will be particularly intense.

Tight Rope Technique: This surgery was developed in 2007 and is the most recent advancement in ACL surgery for dogs. Veterinarian surgeons at the University of Missouri Veterinary College first used this state-of-the-art approach. It has gained popularity over the years, as it is much less expensive than TPLO or TTA surgery.

This is a modification of the human procedure used to treat ligament tears in the ankle. Small holes are drilled into the bone of the knee joint to create ‘bone tunnels’, then with branded material called ‘Fibertape’. This virtually indestructible material is used to thread the knee in both vertical and lateral directions.

Tightrope surgery is considered among the least invasive surgeries as well as the most cost effective. However, this operation is not available to dogs weighing less than 40 lbs. or for dogs that have already had a stainless steel metal plate put into the knee joint from past procedures. Physical therapy during the postoperative phase is crucial, if you are not going to be available to assist your dog with mobility exercises then this surgery is also not for.

As you discuss surgery options with your veterinary surgeon you will eventually find the ideal procedure for your dog. You will need to keep in mind the nature of your dog’s knee injury, size of your dog, weight, and age. In addition, the cost of each procedure varies significantly, if the price of the more invasive surgeries is prohibitive then you may want to move in the direction of a less expensive procedure.

Cost Of ACL Surgery For Dogs In 2019: Price Comparison From Different Regions In The United States, Both Rural And Urban

Regional cost comparisons of ACL surgery.

Determining the total cost of surgery to address your dog’s torn ACL will depend on several variable factors. Where you live, as the cost of surgery varies from region to region, the type of procedure you choose, medication, and physical therapy treatments. You will also need to consider the costs involved in preparing your home for confinement and any other adjustments you may need to make to optimize post-operative care. Surgical costs go up if you choose a specialized veterinarian surgeon.

Remember, the cost of surgery is not limited to your vet bill. ACL surgery for your dog may require that you take some time off of work to be present and attentive to your dog.

Metropolitan based veterinary clinics will cost you nearly double than what you would pay in smaller towns across America. New York City, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle boast the highest surgical fees for ACL Tears in dogs. A confluence of factors creates this price difference in urban centers versus more rural communities. Firstly, similar to the price of real estate, a high population and therefore demand, increases the price of dog surgery. Secondly, urban centers tend to attract veterinary surgeons with more experience and higher qualifications (in part because they are paid more).

Here is a sampling of prices in two different urban centers in 2019:

New York City:

TPLO Surgery: $6350 USD. This cost includes anesthesia, pre and post operative X-Rays, four home visits post operation, and the initial physical therapy session.

TTA Surgery: $4800 USD. This cost includes anesthesia, pre and post operative X-Rays, four home visits post operation, and the initial physical therapy session.

Lateral Suture Technique: $995 USD. Several veterinary clinics in NYC will offer a package deal for this surgery that is all-inclusive.

Tightrope Surgery: $650 USD. This surgery is by far the most cost effective but is off limits to small dogs or dogs that have already received ACL surgery. This cost does not include physical therapy, an intrinsic aspect to recovery for this operation.

(Please note that there is some variance in pricing in the city of New York but all veterinary clinics are within the range of the aforementioned prices)

Orange County, California:

TPLO Surgery: $4300 USD. Additional costs may apply, this total will include pre and post operation X-Rays, medication, two at home visits post surgery, and does not include physical therapy. (You can expect to pay $200.00 for the initial consultation and roughly $100.00 for follow-up therapy in this region)

TTA Surgery: $3700 USD. Similar to TPLO surgery, this total will cover most surgically related costs but will not include physical therapy.

Lateral Suture Technique: $1000 USD. This all-inclusive deal can be found around the country regardless of region.

Tightrope Surgery: $850 USD. This price includes X-Rays and medication but excludes physical therapy, a paramount aspect to this form of ACL surgery.

***Please note these samples are taken from specific veterinary clinics in these two urban centers. There is some variance in prices depending on the clinic but you can expect to pay close to the above price list. Both examples represent medium cost of ACL surgery in the market of these two regions.

If complications arise during the postoperative phase the cost will rise. Please note that the prices are based on veterinary surgeons with at least 10 years experience.

Here is a sampling of prices in three regions that range from rural to urban:

Whitehall, Wisconsin:

TPLO Surgery: $3300 USD. This is an all-inclusive price for surgical cost and excludes physical therapy and post-operative fees.

TTA surgery: $2600 USD. This is an all-inclusive price for surgical cost and excludes physical therapy and post-operative fees.

Lateral Suture Technique: $850 USD. This is an all-inclusive price and excludes physical therapy and post-operative fees.

Tightrope Surgery: $750 USD. The surgeon in Whitehall, Wisconsin is among the country’s leader in this new technique of ACL surgical care. The cost will include the initial physical therapy assessment and treatment.

Scottsdale, Arizona:

TPLO Surgery: $4400 USD. This fee will include all aspects of surgery, but will not include any post-operative care.

TTA surgery: $3600.00. This fee will include all aspects of surgery, but will not include any post-operative care.

Lateral Suture Technique: $995 USD. This is an all-inclusive package that includes several follow-up appointments, but will not include physical therapy.

Tightrope Surgery: $850 USD. This price includes all care before and during surgery but will not include physical therapy post surgery.

Charleston, South Carolina:

TPLO Surgery: $3250 USD for the basic procedure or $3698 USD will include physical therapy and follow up X-Rays and check ups.

TTA Surgery: $2025 USD. This cost is for the surgery only and does not include additional fees associated with the operation procedures.

Lateral Suture Technique: $895 USD. This is an all-inclusive surgical package that includes pre and post-operative lab work and X-Rays. This price does not include physical therapy.

Tightrope Surgery: $725 USD. This cost does include pre and post-operative lab work and X-Rays but does not include the price of physical therapy necessary for these procedures to be effective.

***Please note these samples are taken from specific veterinary clinics in two separate regions. There is some variance in prices depending on the clinic but you can expect to pay close to the above price list. Both examples represent medium cost of ACL surgery in the market of these two regions that are not large metropolitan areas.

If complications arise during the postoperative phase the cost will rise. Please note that the prices are based on veterinary surgeons with at least 10 years experience.

Veterinary Insurance And ACL Surgery

If you have insurance for your pet then you can expect that a large portion of the costs will be covered through insurance. Expect to pay 10% of the cost of surgery. Most likely you will be responsible for the cost of physical therapy, although some pet insurance companies will cover a portion of these fees as well.

If your jaw drops at the price lists above and you do not have pet insurance remember that surgery is not the only option for treating a torn ACL in your pet. Consider alternative care if you know that your current financial situation is not robust enough for these high cost surgeries.

Alternative Care: Surgery Is Not The Only Solution For ACL Tears In Dogs

Alternative care for dog acl surgery.

Consider conservation management if you are taken aback by the price of ACL surgery. Many dogs, particularly if they weigh less than 40 lbs. will experience a full recovery with confinement, a knee brace, vitamins, limited activity, massage, ice therapy, and other treatments.

Surgery may produce faster results, but if your budget is prohibitive do not be dismayed as you will be able to care for your dog’s torn ACL through conservation management.

Choose A Procedure That Fosters The Recovery Of Your Dog And Your Pocket Book

While the price of ACL surgery for dogs varies depending on where you live, ultimately the ratio of cost from one form of surgery to the other is similar regardless of urban or rural areas.

There may be some variance within regions and it is best to interview several clinics to find the best price and the veterinary surgeon you feel most comfortable with.

If you are sure that you want to move forward with surgery but are unable to afford TPLO or TTA surgery then you will want to consider an all inclusive package for the traditional Lateral Suture Technique. Many veterinary clinics across the country will provide an all-inclusive package for this procedure. This is a solid surgery that will have your dog up and running by 12 weeks post operation. You can expect to receive the full gamut of surgical care for this procedure anywhere in the country for roughly $1000 USD

If you venture to have the Tightrope surgery for your dog, although the initial cost is lower, it is paramount that you are prepared to pay for physical therapy sessions and be available to perform range of motion exercises with your dog regularly.

Regardless, of what type of surgery you choose, after consulting with a veterinary surgeon, post-operative care will be involved and lengthy. You should expect a 12- week protocol of recovery.

If you have pet insurance ensure that they will cover all four forms of surgery as some insurance companies will not cover Tightrope surgery as it is the newest model.

If the cost of surgery is prohibitive then consider conservation management as a viable treatment plan for your dog.

Take your time to consider which surgery will best serve the needs of your dog and your current financial stature.

Where did you have your dog’s ACL repair surgery? How much did you end up paying? Please share in the comments to help other owners!

Sources:

https://www.beechnutanimalhospital.com/advanced-care.pml

https://www.topdoghealth.com/library/orthopedic-surgery/articles-surgery/dog-cruciate-acl/

https://www.topdoghealth.com/library/orthopedic-surgery/articles-surgery/tibial-plateau-leveling-osteotomy-tplo/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibial-plateau-leveling_osteotomy

https://www.beechnutanimalhospital.com/advanced-care.pml

https://www.cuteness.com/article/cost-acl-surgery-dogs

https://trupanion.com/pet-insurance/actual-claims

https://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/

https://www.topdoghealth.com/library/orthopedic-surgery/articles-surgery/dog-acl-surgery-lateral-suture/

https://www.charlestonvrc.com/portal/orthopedic-pricing-information

One Response to The Cost Of Dog ACL Surgery In 2019

  1. April 23, 2019 at 5:57 pm #

    I just had tightrope surgery on my dogs rear legs (2) in Tumwater, Washington and the cost was considerably more than you quoted. Surgery alone was $5900.00 plus dollars
    and approximately $150.00 for each follow up care visit. The stitches come out Thursday
    which will be more expenses but hopefully it will all be worth it for my 13 month old Rottie.
    She was too young to restrict her to a life of no running and playing and to still re injuring
    her back legs.

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