What is the Cost of QLF Surgery in Dogs?

QLF (Quadri-Lateral Fabella) surgery is a relatively new surgical procedure that is used to treat cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tears in dogs. The procedure was developed in the early 2000s by Dr. Thomas J. Murtha, III., a veterinarian and surgeon at the North Andover Haverhill Animal Hospital in Massachusetts.

Prior to the development of QLF surgery, the most common treatment for CCL tears in dogs was tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) surgery. TPLO surgery is a major surgery that involves cutting and repositioning the tibia bone in the dog’s knee. The surgery is very effective, but it is also very expensive and can have a long recovery time. There are other surgical repair options including the Tightrope procedure, TTA and more, and you a consultation with your veterinarian can help you to learn more about the different types of surgeries and which might be best for your specific needs.

girl walking with dog after qlf surgery

One benefit of QLF surgery is that is is a less invasive alternative to TPLO surgery. The QLF’s procedure involves making a small incision in the dog’s knee and then drilling a hole through the fabella, a small bone that sits next to the knee joint. Multiple synthetic nylon filaments are used as the attachment to the quadriceps tendon, which is the muscle that straightens the leg. The formation of scar tissue alongside the filaments help to stabilize the knee joint and prevents the CCL from tearing again.

QLF surgery has been shown to be effective in treating CCL tears in dogs. 92% of dogs that underwent QLF surgery were able to return to normal activity within six months. The surgery is also less expensive than TPLO surgery and has a shorter recovery time.

Do All Veterinarians Perform QLF Surgery?

No, not all veterinarians perform QLF surgery. The procedure is still relatively new, and not all veterinarians are familiar with it. Additionally, QLF surgery is a more complex procedure than TPLO surgery, and it requires specialized training and equipment.

If you are considering QLF surgery for your dog, it is important to find a veterinarian who is experienced in performing the procedure. You should also ask your veterinarian about the risks and benefits of QLF surgery and whether it is the right treatment for your dog.

Average Cost of QLF Surgery for Dogs in the United States

The average cost of QLF surgery in dogs in the United States is in line with TPLO surgery with a range of $3,000-$8,000. However, the cost can vary depending on the size of the dog, the location of the surgery, and the experience of the veterinarian. For example, a larger dog will require more anesthesia than a smaller dog, and many of the associated supplies and medication costs vary based on the weight of the dog.

Example Cost Breakdown of QLF Surgery for Dogs

The following is an example of the cost breakdown of QLF surgery for a medium-sized (45 pound) dog:

  • Surgery fee: $4,000
  • Anesthesia: $1,000
  • Medications: $500
  • Supplies: $300
  • Total: $5,800**

** This is not an actual cost – your veterinarian will provide you with a detailed cost breakdown for the procedure.

Insurance Coverage for QLF Surgery

Some pet insurance plans cover QLF surgery, while others do not. It is important to check with your pet insurance company to see if your plan covers QLF surgery before you schedule the procedure.


QLF surgery is a safe and effective treatment for CCL tears in dogs. The procedure is less invasive than TPLO surgery and has a shorter recovery time. However, QLF surgery is not available from all veterinarians and the cost can be high. If you are considering QLF surgery for your dog, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the risks and benefits of the procedure and whether it is the right treatment for your dog.

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