Tightrope CCL Surgery Recovery

Tightrope CCL Surgery

The standard rehabilitation procedure for Tightrope repair is a bit different than TTA and TPLO, due to the less invasive nature of the procedure.  When dogs return home from Tightrope repair, owners are instructed to allow their dog to utilize the leg as they wish.  For some dogs this means they will start putting weight on it the next day, and for other dogs it could be 2-4 weeks before they feel comfortable bearing weight on the surgical leg.  Keeping your dog still while in the house, and keeping leashed walking to a minimum (bathroom breaks only) is critical during the first few weeks home no matter what procedure you choose, and exercise/movement restriction is advised for the first 8 post operative weeks.

At 4 weeks post op, most veterinarians will instruct owners to begin introducing their dog back to walks, particularly walking uphill in an attempt to rebuild loss muscle mass.  It is a good idea to start out by taking a few short walks every day, gradually working up to longer and less frequent walks.  This will prevent strain on the knee joint, which can hinder the healing process.  Post operative exercises need to be controlled, leashed walks, as any running, jumping, or roughhousing during the first 8 weeks can be detrimental to the stability of the knee and recovery process.

Upon his arrival home, your dog will need to take a number of medications for pain, inflammation, infection prevention, and possibly sedation.  If your buddy is not a willing pill taker, it is a good idea to try to get them into the habit of taking a small snack such as a piece of cheese, peanut butter, or a hot dog slice after their meals.  Each dog is different with regard to how long they need to be on a particular pain, inflammation, antibiotic, and sedation regimen, but usually the antibiotics are taken over 10 days, with the pain/inflammation/sedation used on an as needed basis.

As a general rule, just pay close attention to your dog and be sure to tailor their recovery to their particular needs.  There is no such thing as having a post operative dog rest too long, but there is always the risk of damage to the repair if your dog tries to do too much, too soon.  Tightrope CCL, like other traditional repair methods (lateral suture, extracapsular imbrication), is simply a way to stabilize the joint while scar tissue is being formed, it is not a replacement ligament.

138 thoughts on “Tightrope CCL Surgery Recovery

  1. 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 information was helpful!

    1. My dog had the tightrope surgery two months ago. I’m worried cause she was getting better but in the last few days she looks like it hurts her worse and she’s putting less weight on it. When I physically bend her leg I feel a popping in her knee that doesn’t seem right. I’m not sure if this popping was there before. Does your dogs knee have any popping in it when you bend it?

      1. There can be occasional popping. I would call your dogs’ surgeon. Mine had popping for awhile, he said it had something to do with the tightrope adjusting.

        My surgeon ended up giving my dog a stem cell shot. She is still doing great after both knees were done 4 and 3 years ago respectively.

  2. I have a 60 lb. lab/akita (5 years old). He had Tightrope surgery four weeks ago. He currently walks on the leg, but if trying to ambulate faster still does not use it. I am excited about the long term prognosis, as he uses it more and more each week. He is still on activity restriction (short walks – no jumping), but I try to gradually increase the amount of walking on inclines and light stairs to get him to use it more. Nothing too strenuous. Appetite is good, but I think he is a little depressed as he wants more activity, but can’t.

  3. Our Lab/Newfie cross Thor is 12 days post-op and here is what we learned and experienced:

    Night one: After he began coming out of the anastethic – he was in a great deal of pain despite the 75 mg Fentanyl pain patch on his back and the liquid Metacam we have on hand because we just discovered that he has arthritic bone spurs in his spine also….At 11:00 pm by telephone, the vet advised that we remove the bandage which seemed to help ease some pain but nobody slept that night. (It is a job ensuring the incision site is clean since spring thaw is here and the mud is splattering even for those few precious 3 legged steps we take out for a break).

    Day One: We waited anxiously for the office to open so we could get proper medication for this suffering dog…He was not sent home with sedatives and both vets argued over the pain management doses….By 1:00 pm that afternoon after 2 doses of morphine – he “seemed to be” settling down finally (we removed the fentanyl patch thinking we would overdose him but probably should not have). At 1:30 pm all “heck” broke loose – his pain became uncontrollable and finally – 7 hours later we were bringing him back at 8:30 pm for an emergency visit….crying, hiccupping for air from all the crying, and in great distress….(I have to say at that point I was ready to stop torturing this beautiful animal forever…)

    Night Two: The vet gave him a patch, more morphine, pencillin and a sedative – which he fought for over an hour as we tried to console/conjole him to sleep with the usual bedtime ritual in the pen at the vet’s office. We left him there finally resting for the very first time – on his own overnight without us or his very precious older “brother” Blackie.

    Day Three: Early am – we went to see him before the vet arrived for the day – He had been resting and we sure did unsettle him for which we were feeling guilty until about 5 minutes later when we realized (and helped him ourselves) to go out for a very much needed potty break….Poor Love. The vet pretty much told us we spoiled him and sent us home!

    Day 3 – 7: He does not eat (loses over 4 pounds) and rarely drinks on his own. We feed him by syringe – including mixing medications with cherry jello, soup broth & water.

    Day 7: The leg has not looked swollen as such but in the hour and a half we were getting dinner ready – it puffed up like a balloon. We called the vet several times from 6 – 9 pm and were told to use a warm poultice to try to draw the fluid out. This did not work after 2 hours and I cannot tell you how anxious we were not knowing what the fluid was or why it had now collected….Finally, we convinced an unhappy vet to meet us at the office at 9 pm (I know my dog is spoiled but I also know when he is in distress and I am tired of being blown off when trying to convey the latter). Vet tried releasing a couple stitches and finally lanced the incision (the “spoiled” dog did not wince or whine) and over a quart of fluid flooded the floor. Immediately, the dog’s behaviour reverted back to his real personality 🙂 At home, he finally ate a few cookies by hand.

    Day 8: We realize he will need a drain because the fluid is building again and not being released. We return in the morning for this…The vet now realizes this may have been a good thing to put in right after the surgery. The drain drives him crazy all day but we discover he is given great relief when we use the ice bag over it. (Whether it was itching or burning….able to get him to sleep in 2 hour shifts over night and use ice as needed)

    Day 9: No longer driving him crazy unless it is draining…again we use ice or a cold cloth. The house is filled with clean fresh blankets in his favourite spots – I continue to do laundry – with an actual smile on my face because he is turning a corner and is finally eating out of our hands and relaxing into his old self….

    Day 12: Fluid still draining, particularly after walking across house or out for potty break….Using ice/cloth less often but we have lots of fluid on blankets in morning. It is Sunday and we will have to wait till next week to find out why. In a perfect world he would be due to have the stitches out in a few days…Good news – he eats on his own finally and is yes, bossing the rest of us around 🙂

    Bless you all. We were lucky that we could both be at home because it has taken 2 of us 24/7 care for over a week. Thor knows when he is nearing the vet’s office when he is laying in the back seat and he starts to whimper….I cry with him now. At this point – I thought our greatest challenge would be to keep a busy dog quiet….(I wish!) We have been back & forth to that office for 13 months because he was favouring that leg and had walking/movement difficulties related to excercise & weather….3 x-rays and countless visits, beginning when he was 1.5 yrs old to now! Have had enough dogs to know when one is not walking/moving properly or without pain. Less than 2 weeks before the final blow on the ligament – I forced them to xray his back finally revealing that he has bone spurs in the spine! Turns out the ligament was very likely also tearing all this past year – we were told he did not have even one thread left! Is Thor spoiled? Yep, you betcha – we all love him to death….BUT we know our dog and we know when there is a problem….Please, please, please insist that your vet listens to you. These guys cannot tell us what is going on and need you to advocate on their behalf. Good luck to all on your paths to recovery. Thank you for the terrific web site – I honestly could not have made it through this without the great information.

  4. My 60 lb Pitt Bull mix had tightrope surgery in Mexico 2 1/2 weeks ago. She was putting weight on her leg the next day. Her original ACL tear was 1 year ago but I did not want to have the surgery that breaks her leg and costs $2,200. She is doing well and wants to run and of course I can’t let her. She has developed arthritis in her right hip, most likely because of her favoring her left leg for so long. I am waiting to see if this gets better once she is fully using her left leg. She is only 3 1/2. The vet said her knee was really bad and they had to clean out all the torn ACL tissue, so I am pleased with her progress. I think I will take her to a place that has a water treadmill to help her build muscle. Good luck to everyone.

  5. update……My Chessie is now 8 weeks post op on his right leg….unfortunately for us, the repair has failed. The actual procedure did not, but the tunnels in his bone have gotten larger. Our vet seems to think this is due to him having to bear weight on it as his left ccl is torn as well.
    We have kept him kenneled per our post op instructions and he has only been outside on a leash. We are now contemplating the TPLO for his left leg. Has anyone had similar problems?

  6. Lori, my dog underwent Tightrope surgery in Sept. 08. Long story short, after battling seromas & infection for weeks, we found out in Jan. 09 that the bone tunnel had expanded & the metal button had collapsed into the bone tunnel. We had to have the fibertape removed. We cultured & found there was no infection in his knee joint, but the actual fibertape grew staph. The infection in the fibertape was causing the bone tunnel to expand. Please have your vet investigate this possibility.

  7. I read your blog for a long time and must tell you that your articles always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

  8. Hello all – my 6yr old yellow lab had CCL surgery 7 days ago today, and let me tell you – its has been nothing but great! He had the surgery on 4/5 and stayed over night at the VET and we picked him up at 2:45pm the next day. The vet we found is wonderful. The first day home he slept – since I think he was still kind of doped up and was also still wearing the fentanyl patch, which we took off the next day. Day 2 at home he started to eat and walk around the house a bit – he was in very little pain if any at all. Day 3 looked like all the swelling has disappeared and he is pretty much back to his daily routine going out to the bathroom and asking for his treats. Day 4 he is walking and looks to be putting more weight on his own. He will be on limited outside activity for the next 8 weeks and that means on a lease everyday. Days 5 thru today he is pretty back to normal. Also, I should have mentioned at the beginning that he had a full torn ACL and they put in a prosthetic one. I am not sure how that healing would fit just partial torn repairs, but Jackson seems to be on a road to a full recovery. If anyone has any question please email me. I have a great book on exercises that the surgeon gave me. Best of luck!


    1. Gary-
      Where did your dog have his surgery? I have female 70 lb yellow lab with a torn ccl. She will be 2 next week. Don’t like the idea of TPLO – too invasive, but concerned about tightrope failure. Any help would be appreciated!

  9. We have an 8yr old pitt mix that needs CCL surgery on both legs. We have been given an estimate of $2500-$2800 per leg for the lateral suture method and a TPLO or TTA would be over $3000. We are wondering if there is anyone in NJ that performs the TR (Tightrope repair) method? We have a couple state of the art facilities in the area, but they do not perform this type of surgery. Any suggestions?

  10. I had the CCL Tightrope repair done on my 5 year old lab, Ruby, the week of Christmas. We followed the recovery procedures to the T, but 6 months later we are second guessing the procedure. There is still movement in the joint that causes swelling even after just a simple walk around the block. I feel so bad for Ruby because of the choice we made. I should have went with the TPLO method the first round. Now she is scheduled for surgery again and will have to go through the whole rehab processs again. I would really think twice about the CCL method because, as I found out, it is not the fool proof procedure that it has been hyped up to be.

  11. Buster is a 5 year old lab and has been sick most of the winter with an illness not related to his ACL. We had the Tightrope repair method done on 5-18-09. He is doing very well. He would like to rough house more, but we have been just walking him on a lease since the surgery. He was walking on it the same as the surgery as we took him home the same day. He weighs over 100 pounds so he needs to walk on his own. While on the lease he will try to run, but picks up the leg when he does that, otherwise he walks all over the place. We have let him do most any walking that he wants to do. Lately he has been going for longer walks than necessary, but that seems to be okay for him. If he gets tired, he either sits down or lays for a few minutes and then continues. We have to have him on a lease for a total of 12 weeks and no jumping, stairs or rough housing until after that. We have a long ways to go yet, so was hoping to hear more good stories here. Thanks for the info that you have all provided. Buster is an avid hunter – so we are hoping he will be able to do that this fall.

  12. Hello. About a week ago my Bojangles came inside with a limp. I check his paw and realized it was his knee that was causing him pain. We took him to the vet 2 days later and found out that he needed knee surgery because the Doc said that he had a torn cruciate ligament. Well he went in today at 9am (he had the surgery) and he is back home. They said that his ligament was in fact not torn, but loose? And he had alot of cartilage buildup. Well we got him home and he slept for 3 hours, but when we let our other dog out to potty, he seemed to want to get up, but when he tried this he whined and scooted. I almost sobbed. So I then tried to pick him up and I also tried to like scoop a towel under him to support his hind end, but he wouldnt have it, he just whined and scooted in pain. So I gave him some pain meds and some food, but I am sad.

    I want to hear from some one who has had a pet with knee surgery that acted this way. Tell me this is normal, tell me this only last a little while. I miss my spunky aussie. Help, I need support I am so sad.


  13. My dog is having the tightrope surgery on Friday morning performed by Dr. Wright in Springfield, Illinois. I have been nervous about his upcoming surgery and even a bit doubting my decision. I have read every article available online, had a consultation with Dr. Wright… an hour and half, now the day is near and I am scared. I know about all the options available and still can not decide which is really the best… Can anyone put my mind at ease?

    1. Christina I know this is years ago but our Bernese Mt Dog just had the same surgery with a Dr Wright. How did your baby do? How many weeks was it before he walked without limping and did you keep stairs limited past the recommended 6 weeks? Thanks and I’m happy all went well!

    2. My dog is having the tightrope surgery on Thurs. How did your dog do I feel same way you did. She is having both legs done at same time. I feel i may be making a mistake.

      1. How much does your dog weigh? I contacted the inventor of the surgery before proceeding last year. At the time my dog, a chow/schipperke mix was around 65 lbs.(the smaller the better) If you have a smaller dog or medium sized dog I would go for it. Monty has done incredibly well. It’s now just a year post op and you would never know anything was ever wrong with his knee. (He had a full tear) Of course making sure your surgeon is well trained and has done the the procedure many times also helps) My surgeon had performed it over a thousands times since its inception. I don’t know where you live but Monty had his done by Dr Nordland at Yadkin Park Animal Hospital in Southern Pines NC. After care is 50% of how effective the surgery turns out also. That was hard, very hard, and I had a friend stay with me for a month to help. If you have any questions you can contact me via my email if you wish: savingtess@gmail.com ~ Andrea

    3. my 8 year old chocolate lab had her second knee surgery march 12th. 2018. Not fun. Her first was on the east coast at 13 months of age and had a wonderful surgeon do a suture procedure number 8 . didn’t go all that well. had to redo it after one week. This time she had the tightrope done. I am still apprehensive about it and after 4 weeks she is still sore, started doing exercises with her, and have taken her off pain med due to side effects. I keep her supported under the belly at all times as it is winter her in Alberta. she will not drink so i give her a bit of melted peanut butter in water and this is the only way she gets hydrated and by putting warm water into her food. This is draining and worrisome for me as her. Vet said she can do stairs with support after 2 weeks, but she is downstairs where i am constantly. She will only pee once daily but at least she will. Holding it in. This is hard as she is turning 8 this year so made it close to 6 years after first injury. Its hard to monitor a dog that loves life. She is on green lip mussels from the east coast 1000 mg daily for the first month. supplements, cartaphen monthly
      injection to. I sleep downstairs as well, to monitor her, keep her safe. I have another dog as well and have to make sure he is loved as well.

      1. Monty did not want to ‘go’ at all after his TR surgery.. Turns out dogs have special places in which they want to go (not spray, but an actual full pee) I worried SICK over this. He has his surgery in the middle of a very very bad winter and I ended up having to just let him take me wherever he wanted (which the vet said NO to but if I hadn’t have done that he would have never have gone at all) no matter of how long he was out in the front or backyard he would NOT go. The not drinking worries me more than anything and I would be on the phone with your vet about that. Dehydration is especially bad news after surgery. That said the first 6 weeks after his surgery were some of the hardest times of my live. I live alone so had no one to help me. I bought a crate of Chewy and even a special soft E cone but he was having none of it. He would buck like a wild bronco in that crate so I spent all that money for nothing. I use it now for storage just to get use from it. The good news is as long as you take care with him and make sure he keeps off that leg as much as possible then he will recover and in 6 months he can be off leash. (monty is only off leash at dog parks but I have a large fenced in yard) good luck and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me: savingtess@gmail.com.

  14. CHristina,

    How is bojangles doing??? You have to remember between the anesthesia and not understanding what is going on, it can be traumatic for some dogs. He was probably in pain. Some dogs have a low threshold for pain and get very whinning. My boxer has a high threshold for pain, so he seem to handle it ok. my boxer had the tta surgery three weeks ago. keep me posted. I am sure he doing much better now. Corie

  15. My 7 year old Lab Mix had the tightrope surgery 2 weeks ago. He had his surgery in Fayetteville, NC by Dr. Garrett. I was extremely suprised and the Vet was pleasantly surprised that he is putting his full weight on that leg most times. This is the best he has felt since probably March. We still have to keep him on a leash for the next 4-6 weeks for the normal healing process and he wants to do more because he feels better. But we do what need to do to make him better and heal properly. This cost of this surgery was under $1K. I did pay extra for the xrays and blood work but that was not much. This was much better than the cost of the TPLO ($2400) that was quoted. I am very happy with the outcome and we have been told that the other leg will probably need to be done within the next 1-2 years. I will have the TR done again by the same Doctor.

    1. Dianne,
      I’m schedule to have tightrope surgery with Dr. Garett next week for my 4.5 year old 6- pound dobie. How did the surgery turn out??? I would love to hear from a patient!

      1. Hi Sara, I understand this is an old post but if you can give me any timelines on how your baby progressed we’d so appreciate it. I hope all turned out great for yours! We have a 6 year old Berner that’s 4 weeks post op now. Doc says he’s doing great but I’m still worried about how much he’s limping. Thank you again! Also, did you keep yours off of stairs past the recommended 6 weeks or just up until?

    2. Hi Dianne

      I know this is an old post but found this site trying to decide whether or not to go with Tightrope or TPLO for my 68 lb chow/schipperke. What caught my attention was that you’re in the same area as I am and the price you paid. I know it’s been 8 years since your surgery, but my vet is quoting me 2200-2400 for the tightrope and 2500 for TPLO.. If you get this could you let me know how your lab ultimately did with the TR procedure? Monty was diagnosed 29 December with CCL rupture in his right hind leg. Thanks. Andrea

  16. Dianne-
    Did your dog’s knee area feel thicker than the other knee after surgery? My dog Diesel had tightrope surgery on July 10th and has been doing great, he had his stitches removed and has been walking on it regularly. Just lately I have notice his knee area that had surgery done seems to feel bigger/thicker than his normal knee? I am a bit concerned because it also feels warm. I am putting in a call to the surgeon in the morning, but wanted to know if anyone noticed this in their dogs….

  17. Our 5 yr old lab, Reagan, had tightrope surgery on his left leg in april 2009. He was in pain the first night but was ok after that. Put weight on it after a week and slowly after several weeks was able to go for walks- always on a leash. After 3 months, Reagan blew his other acl while walking on a leash. One week after a tightrope surgery on the right knee, Reagan is doing well. This surgey went even better than the first. He is putting weight on both legs and his tail is wagging. We need to keep him still for another 2 weeks then bring him in for therapy on a treadmill under water. I think he will be fine. Total cost for both knees and xrays was about $3500. Dr Betts in Mill Creek WA. He loves his patients.

  18. My 60 lb Pit mix has had both legs done. the first was done in Mexico in March- not tightrope, but they used the tape and a bone screw above and tied below. It seemed tight when I got back and had my vet check it. she totally tore her other ccl and had tightrope surgery in Spokane, Wa. the vet said there is some movement in the left leg (the first surgery). She is now 9 weeks out on the 2nd surgery. this vet has them start on exercise soon after surgery. she has been going to water treadmill therapy since her sutures were out. I am also walking her on a leash and she wants to trot so I let her do it a little. I am going for a checkup with the surgeon next week to see when I can let her run freely. She is a young active dog so this has not been fun for her. I don’t know what to do if either surgery goes bad. I DO NOT WANT HER TO HAVE ANY MORE SURGERIES or go through any more long rehabs. I am told that these dogs will have arthritis so she may need meds for that. I feel for everyone and their dogs who go through all the pain and restrictions and expense and frustration if all doesn’t turn out great in the end.

    1. I also live in Spokane, WA and would like to know the name of the vet you used for the tightrope procedure. Are you happy with your dog’s recovery after all this time? Thanks for your help.

  19. My 8 yr old golden/shepherd mix, Maggie Mae McGee is scheduled for TPLO surgery in two days! I am feeling scared and wondering if this is the thing to do. She is an active (though now running on only three legs) 64lb. beauty. I just found out about the tightrope surgery. No told me about it! The cost for our surgery is high ($2800) and I am a senior who has been cut back to only five hours per week. Needless to say, I will do anything for my baby; she is the only family I have, but I want to do the best thing with as little discomfort as possible for her. Any thoughts anybody? I am SOOOO afraid for her!

  20. Hi Janeva,
    I guess your dog has had surgery by now. How is she doing? I guess I am lucky that my Greta’s 2nd surgery cost $1,400 with everything. The rehab is sooo long. Get Maggie lots of toys and Kong bones that you can stuff things in to keep her occupied. My vet recommends rehab start as soon as the sutures are removed. that is easier than doing nothing for 8 weeks. I hate to say this, but be prepared for her other leg to go bad as that seems to be very common.

  21. Hi Kathleen, My 6yr old female hound mixed breed has a cruciate ligament tear in left hind leg. I’ve been doing a lot of research and speaking with many vets. and vet techs who know about the tightrope procedure. I live in Ct. it’s very expensive and not everyone here is that experienced with it. Where did your dog have the surgery and how is she doing now. thanks,

  22. I live in CT and our 5 yr old Golden Retriever had TTA surgery doen by Dr. Jeff Berzon in West Hartford. he’s amazing, does 350 knees a year and teaches on TTA to other Vets. The TTA went well so far and we are going back nxt week for his first xray 6 weeks after the procedure. We thought about tightrobe (Tufts University does it and supposedly is the best in the area) but we decided against it as honestly i didn’t want to take any chances with him. (I felt the tightrope was too new and heard too many things that have gone wrong with it.) 6 weeks into the recovery and he hardly limps at all. Everything went great and we’re happy with the TTA.

  23. Ok, my dog Greta is free to run again and things look good with her tightrope leg. she favors her other leg – the surgery done in Mexico – when she gets a little too much exercise, but I am pleased to let her out of the house on her own so she can do doggie things without being on a leash. Her $1,400 tightrope surgery was done in Spokane, Wa. on June 9th and has healed nicely.

  24. My 7yr old male Pit Bull-65lbs is not doing well after three days post op.He had the steel plate and screws put into his rt knee after cleaning out torn ACL. Im so upset to see him so swollen-to his toes! He eats and now sleeps OK-but there is deff discomfort and I fear worse with this swelling? I will take him back to vet Saturday If its not down a little by then. There is deff a fear of complications since day two he jumped the gate keeping him in room where he was to be confined. He is in a big house with two other larger dogs and he does not like to be alone. We found him out of the room and up the stairs crying-couldn’t get down. I feel awful that I left him believing he was secured with the gate. Anyone have any comments on this swelling? He had the surgery Monday-Its now Thursday.

  25. My dog is getting the surgery tommorow…Do any of you know if with the tight – rope procedure, Dogs usually walk normal afterwards? Wilson is an 80 pd,Olde english bulldogge

  26. I cannot agree more with some of these responses. I went with the CCl for my lab, Beau, instead of the TPLO because he was 9 1/2 years old. We did everything to a T to make sure it worked. It didn’t. It’s been 5 months of heartbreak. There was a second surgery and then a third. Unfortunately, after $2800 I couldn’t afford to go elsewhere and having no experience with anything like this before, I felt I was at the mercy of this vet.

      1. I’m looking into tightrope myself or trying to let it heal on its own. What was your bad experience with it? This surgeon would do it arthroscopic and has success with large dogs, even up to 200lbs. I just cant decide what to do.

  27. Judy & Buster,
    I have a heavy 6 yr old lab who needs a knee surgery. I was very happy to read about your experience. Would you please share the location of the doctor where you went? I live in Northern California, but don’t mind transporting the dog at a reasonable distance.

  28. Kathleen & Greta.
    I have a 60 lb lab 5yr old Female lab that needs the CCL repaired in both knees and we live in the Puget Sound area of Wa. What vet did you go to in Spokane for your surgery and how is Gretta doing now? Hope every thing is happy.

  29. my dog has a plate in his leg already due to a broken femur. can he not get Tightrope surgery? getting consult about options next week. but was all excited that maybe this would be a good option and now after reading more dont know if he is a canidate. please advise if anyone knows. thx

  30. I have a very active boxer and am looking for someone with same who has done either the TTA or the tightrope and sometime has passed. I would love to hear from dog owners who have experienced this so I can try to figure out what is the best surgery for him down the line. All the stories are so helpful and sad. I feel for you all. I would just love to hear from someone who had the surgery like a year ago and see where there dog is at now. Thanks so much. I need to make a decision in the next week or so and need all the help I can get.

    I own a 115 lbs Rhodesian Ridgeback/Sheppard cross (Cody). In August 2008, we were at a leash free dog park and he was sideswiped while running by another dog. Cody yelped immediately and began limping later that day. I kept him inactive for a week or so and his leg did seem to get a little better but never healed. I took him to see a vet who referred me to a specialist in the area. The specialist examined him and told me he would need the ccl surgery. He advised me of three procedures including tightrope. I researched all the methods and thought that this new procedure seemed like Cody’s best chance at recovery due to his size and risk involved. In March 2009, Cody had tightrope surgery done. He was healing very well until week 10. I was walking him up and down hills in a park and he somehow twisted his knee. He immediately began limping again. I took him back to the specialist who told me he had stretched the band and his knee would not heal properly without re-tightening or re-doing the surgery. Of course, Cody was not even two years old, so I had the surgery done again. Both operations cost over $5000 combined. Cody was healing perfectly from the second operation. I was very strict with his movements and did not even start to take him for walks until after 12 weeks. Approximately 5 months after the surgery, Cody waked up and down several flights of stairs at my parents house. Later that night he showed signs of lameness again. I can’t say that this type of scenario would be true with all dogs, however I still want to make other people aware that this surgery may not be successful.

    1. Was this the newest version of tightrope? Im also looking into it, i have a 80lb lab. The surgeon i found only does tightrope and does it in large dogs. Its either that or see if she heals on her own. I dont know what to do

  32. I have a 4 year old German Shepard with a partially torn knee ligament. Have been to Tufts and they recommended TPLO surgery. After reading up about it I’m not sure if this is the right way to go. Does anybody have experience with going for conservative treatment instead of surgery? Would love to hear from you!

  33. My 80 lb labradoodle injured her ACL from agility and frisbee. She had TPLO surgery 3 years ago. After surgery she had water therapy and acupuncture. The hydro therapy was a blessing. The important issue is to find a vet surgeon that is certified in TPLO surgery and has experience. Most of my research suggested the TPLO for dogs 50 lbs. She has been competing in agility since 6 months after her surgery and is better than expected. The bad news-my new labradoodle,l just 16 mos has slipped on the ice and showing all of the signs. It is a traumatic surgery but worth it if you do your research. Good luck.

  34. Our newly acquired 3yr shepherd/blacklab mix had Tightrope surgery 1/7/10. Our vet was extremely pleased with the placement, tightness and stability of the “device”. One concern was pain control after surgery due to reading the comments on this site. Our Dr was a strong proponent of keeping her over night so he could keep a large bandage on the knee, keep an IV in for hydration and constant pain control. Dr also said he is not impressed withthe use of the pain patches – not found to be very effective in vet. use- so i guess i would just question your vet prior to surgery about their pain control protocol. Posie did very wellover night (and we were able to get one good night’s sleep before being on night watch), and came home noon the next day. She had been walking with 3 legs for so long with the injury that total issolation of that leg was a smooth 3 legged gait from the get go. We did do a vigulent 24hr/7 watch with her – wanting her to be able to groom her feet, etc., we chose not to use our E-collar ( but had it in case her licking the wound site became too intense). She did very well, rested well with the pain and anti-inflamitory meds we were given, and her surgical site was clean and ooze free. There was some swelling and discoloration, which we iced the 1st couple of days for a few minutes am & pm. Her biggest discomfort was the cool air hitting her shaved quadrant-(from spine to middle belly on right lower half of body). Guess she’s kind of a wimp – doesn’t likethe cool or wet weather on her-fur is beginning to grow back 14 days post.
    Sheis beginning to weight bear approx 50%,most of the time and doesn’t limp after being on a walk or out to potty at all the last few days. starting rehab today our rehab vet was very pleased with how much she can do, but we still need to keep her from running and jumping and quick turns/spinning for many weeks. All in all we are very pleased and so glad we didn’t choose more drastic surgery where realigning the Tibia is done. we hope she will be back to playing ball with her 2 cohorts and jumping into the pickup with hubby for running errands before summer.
    I encourage others to have a good conversation with their vet, arthitis was already setting in the joint capsule which needed surgical intervention. 3yr old is a young dog to be in such a limited state and a life of pain not to try something. And yes, it is painful to the wallet – ours was $2200. Rehab willbe between $500 -$1000 depending on her progress and our vigilance in her home exercises and treatments (heat and ice, etc.)

  35. we had our dog sadie’s tplo surgery done in october of 08 she now needs her other leg done we are interested in vets in our area that perform tightrope please help us find someone we live in kingsport tn the largest city is knoxville 90 miles away

    thanks loree

  36. My 2 year old yellow lab partially tore his ACL in August. I have spent countless hours researching the best options for Riley and finally decided on stem cell therapy combined with physical therapy. He had his own stem cells harvested from his abdominal area in November and had them injected into his stifle. It was a relatively easy surgery, much like when he was neutered in terms of pain and recovery. He began hydrotread in January and his therapist is extremely pleased with his progress. The best part of all of this is that he can be reinjected if need be. Stem cell therapy can not be used for complete tears of ACL’s, the dog’s joint has to be examined and has to be stable. However if your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia stem cell therapy may be an option for your best friend. I love my dog with all of my heart and knew deep down that he would not tolerate being confined for 6 weeks post op, also I am a RN and work long hours so it would be difficult to coordinate all of his post op care. I am also not completely convinced that surgery is the only way to go….especially after reading some of the horror stories on here not to mention some of the stories my friends at work have told me.
    So far I am pleased with Rileys progress. If anyone wants more info on stem cell therapy you can google vet-stem, they even have a list of vets that are certified of their website. Good luck to everyone and your dogs. ACL tears are not fun!!!! PS cost of stem cell therapy is same as TPLO so not cheap but essentially zero complication rate as it is your dogs own cells….very cool science, hopefully will be available for humans soon too!!!

    1. Great info. I’ve had stem cells put in my back. Unfortunately, in some areas it took, and in others my body just assimilated the paste. We are coming a long way…. great to see they’re doing it with our animals too!

  37. My 8 yr old yellow lab retriever “Prince” is my very best friend. When he was 6 yrs old he had TPLO surgery on his right leg. It was a lengthy and difficult rehab, and he did get a bone infection, but it is the best solution for an active dog. Christmas 2009 his left leg failed, full tear occurred. Because of his age, and how difficult the TPLO was on him, I went with the CCL surgery. I have followed rehab to a T, and now it is week 7 and his repair has failed. I don’t know what to do. Vet has him on some kind of cortisone shots and thinks maybe his meniscus is further torn. I am highly considering taking him for TPLO with original surgeon but am not sure his body can take another major surgery. This has aged him. I have spent about $7000 on surgeries for him (we are in Canada). Cost is no issue, but I want to do what is right for my Prince. He is now suffering again and my heart is breaking. Has anyone experienced a failed CCL and gone for TPLO to fix it? I would love to hear from another dog owner with similar circumstances.

  38. Does anyone have a list of vets in Mexico that perform the tightrope surgery. Even better a referral or two would be nice.

  39. Has anyone had any experience with Veterinary Orthopedic Sports Medicine Group (VOSM) in Savage, Maryland? We are in Northern Virginia and that seems to be the closest and best option. I am thinking of Tightrope surgery for our 4 1/2 year old very active Border Collie/Boxer mix. Sounds as if the recovery is going to be a challenge! Thank you.

  40. My 3 year old Newfoundland had the Tightrope procedure two days ago (March 23, 2010) to repair her right knee. She was toe-touching when I picked her up at the vet the morning after her surgery, and now she is weight-bearing as long as I make her walk slow. If she had her way, she’d be running around holding her right leg off of the ground. But since she had her left knee repaired a year and a half ago, we’re having to take it very slow so that she doesn’t overtax that leg. She doesn’t seem to be in much pain, but is clearly (and understandably) uncomfortable. The rehabilitation exercises that I have been instructed to do are going well, and I already have noticed an increased range of motion between day one and day two out from surgery. Next week will be the first of five sessions with the physical therapist at her vet clinic, including laser therapy, to make sure she is healing without re-injuring her other knee. It’s only a few days out from surgery, but if her recovery stays on pace, she should be ready to go in time for summer.

  41. My 6 year old German Shepherd Angel had the tightrope surgery this past fall. Dr. Cook did the surgery here in Illinois. I will tell anyone that is considering it, be mentally prepared. The recovery process is long and difficult. Just a few days ago, she injured her other leg. I think she fully tore and now will require another tightrope procedure. I have an appoint in a week (hopefully sooner if they can fit us in) to check it out and see if she did tear it.

    A few tips for everyone.

    Ice is your friend. It will help with the swelling and the pain. For the first week we were icing on and off all day. It soothed her and definitely helped swelling go down faster.

    First couple nights – She didn’t get up to pee as she was in too much pain. We ended up changing out the sheets under her at least 10 times as she would just urinate in her bed. She also oozed out some feces so we would use baby wipes to clean her up. I suggest in these cases, you either put a plastic cover over your dog bed with sheets or blankets on top, or put a layer of plastic in between you piles of blankets. You will be doing a lot of laundry the first week. And check to see if they pee themselves the first couple days. They are so drugged up that we never knew. Don’t use a super thick bed that makes it difficult to step up.

    ***IMPORTANT TIP*** Get a sling! It’s a padded piece of material connected to two handles. A good one is padded or has fabric so you don’t irritate their skin as much. Every time your pooch want to get up, you support their weight. We used the sling for almost 3 weeks. It allows her back side legs to be supported. You’ll gauge how much help your pooch needs. Either a full support where you are practically carrying they back end, or light support to just assist in stumbles. The first 2 weeks Angel needed full support in order to squat to pee and poo. If your vet does not have a sling, buy one BEFORE the surgery. This will be a lifesaver especially for big dogs.

    Pooing – Angel did not poop for 5 days after her surgery. 3 visits to the emergency vet and place where she had her surgery later…. she finally went. We were concerned she was going to have some kind of toxic poisoning. Be patient with the pooping. Of course if you suspect your dog has to go but can not, take them to the vet. In 10 days after her surgery, she was brought to emergency vet at least 3 times, and her surgery vet twice. We were very concerned.

    Pain management – They will be in pain and if you have a vocal dog like Angel (Shepherds usually are) it will break your heart. The screaming. The yelping. I cried with her every time. Initially you’ll have pills pills and more pills. For angel, it was not enough. 3 days in, and one of the trips to the emergency vet, we finally were told to get her a pain patch. It was our savior and she had it replaced out 2 times after that. She was in a lot of pain and we could not sooth her.

    Trust your gut – If something seems out of the ordinary, call the vet or take them there. Most areas have emergency vets for off hours. Make sure you have copies of all the records from the surgical vet, so if come 3 am in the morning you have to take them to an emergency center, you can bring the records and it will help them determine all that has been done so far.

    Keep Logs – We had at one point, 4 different meds rotating. KEEP A LOG. Keep a log of what pill was given at what time. Keep a log of when they pee. When they poo. When they eat How long they screamed for. Anything and everything you can think of. If there is an issue during recovery, you won’t have to guess what time was their last pain med, or if you remembered to give the antibiotic. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT STEP!

    You will need help. My sisters and I (3 of us) were on round the clock care for 2 weeks. TWO FULL WEEKS! We slept in the same room as her, she was never left alone. If she had to pee at 2 AM, she whined and we were there to hear it. If she was thirsty she whined and we had to put a bowl under her with a towel to catch the drool. If you have a big dog like we do (100 lbs) you just can not do this alone. I took off work 1.5 full weeks. And my sisters didn’t work so they were there 24/7. This surgery is not one that allows you to leave your pooches home alone to hobble around. One wrong step and that’s it. Your $3000 is wasted cause you didn’t plan out proper care.

    Staples – Make sure you check your dog that all staples are removed. I’ve read about cases were once was missed because the hair was covering it. Know how many staples your dog has. Know how many were pulled out. You’ll have plenty of time to count them.

    Time – The only thing that will help them is time. It will take a long time for them to act like themselves. But they will. Be aware. Infections are a real possibility. Complications are a real possibility. Keep a watchful eye on their behavior. If they are doing great, and then come week 3 their appetite is low and they aren’t acting like themselves, you bring them back to the vet.

    I feel for all of you who are true dog lovers. To watch you dog go through this process is heart breaking. I think I lost years of my life due to the stress of watching her suffer. I’ll have to reread my own post in the near future if Angel requires surgery on the other leg. Good luck to you all. You can get through it. Remember that in the end, you have to do what’s best for the dog.

    1. Hi Kelly – I have a 4 year old 100 lb german shepard and we are contemplating the tightrope surgery. After reading all the comments I am very nervous about actually doint the surgery. Right now she just “favors” the leg after extended excercise. A normal day of play and it doesn’t seem to bother her. There is, of course, some arthritis forming now in the joint. I almost cried reading about your experience just thinking about my poor baby. I guess we really need to think strongly if we want to put her through it. My goodness – I am so scared.

    2. I agree with all of this. I think I’ve aged years watching my sweet sensitive Bernese Mt Dog go through this. Hearing him cry was a knife through my heart every time. Thanks for letting me know others understand. I wish I had had someone “get it” while we struggled through it. I know the post is old but at least I know someone gets it. We’re 4 weeks post op now and I’m still watching every move of his. Hope your baby is running around like the wind~

      1. We are 2 & 1/2 weeks post tightrope with our 45lb Aussie mix, and thankfully she hasn’t really been in too much pain. Her biggest issue was the cone, so we had to sedate her for much of the first week. She was like a bucking bronco in her crate, trying to get it off! We were afraid she would hurt herself, so the vet agreed that sedation was best. When the bandage came off after week 1, she did manage to pull out 4 staples. Not sure how she did that with the cone on, but since the wound didn’t open up, we used steri strips to prevent any tears. She got the staples out at 2 weeks, and now she is cleared for 10 minute walks, twice a day. She’s doing great with it! Only a slight limp, but she does get a little sore afterward. We are giving her Prevacox and Tramadol as needed. We are still super paranoid that she will do something to ruin the surgery, as she is a VERY high energy dog. It breaks my heart to keep her crated so much. She cries about the crate more than she did about pain. It’s so hard to put her back in it after our walks, but we know it is for the best. I really hope that in a few months she will be fully recovered and able to play with her “brothers” again. I would hate for all of this to fail and have to go through it all again!

        1. Hi… I had an Aussie. I can’t imagine trying to crate one. They are such active dogs. Very smart;) We used baby gates and created a large playpen, if you will, for our large Berner. We are 8 weeks post op and still recovering. He jumped at the front door and had a set back:(. This is a long road. Good luck.

          1. We are 6 weeks post op, and she is doing much better. She gets two 30 minute walks a day, and that calms her down quite a bit. We still have a long way to go, but so far, so good. Good luck with your baby!

  42. Our lab had two tightrope procedures performed by Dr. Robert Cook out of St. Charles IL. The first one in June of 2009 seemed to go well. We kept him confined on a full size mattress surrounded by a portable pet fence except when he needed to go to the bathroom. We used a full rear sling (http://handicappedpets.com/www/index.php/cartcompatible.html) so that he didn’t put any weight on his rear legs when he went out to go to the bathroom. After 12 weeks he began to gradually use his leg again and we felt the surgery was a success. Not long after this he tore the CCL in his other rear leg and had a second tightrope performed in late September of 2009. This time the surgery didn’t seem to go so well. The pain and recovery process was pretty unpleasant the first time around, but the second time was much worse. He seemed to be in shock when we picked him up after the second operation (he was shivering uncontrollably) and he refused to even stand up at all. After carrying him inside we started the recovery process again. He didn’t poop for about 5 days but of more concern was that he had stopped drinking water and the knee joint area began to develop a hematoma mouse. This hadn’t occurred the first time around. The vet said that it was probably a nicked capillary, but it seemed like a lot of diffused blood for just a capillary to me. We applied ice and gentle pressure and got the bleeding to eventually stop. Saw the vet for a followup in October at which time he examined the dog and felt that things were progressing as expected. We continued immobilization & recovery all the way to March (because of the long icy winter here). We started to let him try and use his rear legs (while in the safety of the harness) at that time but it’s now April and he hobbles horribly. The leg corresponding to the second surgery shakes significantly when he puts weight on it but we thought that was just due to muscle atrophy and would get better over time as he exercised more. It didn’t and even more disconcerting is that it makes a creaking sound when he walks on it. It’s not a clicking injured meniscus like sound, but more a weird creaking sound like a rusty shock absorber on a car! We’re taking him in to see the surgeon this Friday. I’ll post his diagnosis after he examines our dog.

    1. I know this is old but i would love to know how your dog is doing. I dont see tplo as an option and I too would go to st. Charles for the Tightrope. Since 1 surgery went well and 1 didnt how would your review the process and dr. Cook? Thank you

      1. I had my dog monty’s TR done over 3 years now and knock wood everything has been fine.. no problems at all. His surgery was done by a local vet but he did an amazing job. He’s a hybrid chow/schipperke, and weighs around 65 lbs.

  43. Hi Paul F,

    I am curious as to how much you paid for the TTA surgery in Connecticut and if you are still happy with the results? My 85 lb. lab mix has a torn ACL and I am so distressed about picking the right surgery for her. Any help is much appreciated!

  44. Steven, I am curious about your situation. My Labrador who is only 4 years old (71 pounds) is going through the same thing. She has had 5 CCL surgeries in the past 2 years and the most recent one that was performed – TR procedure. 3 on one knee and 2 on the other. She was doing great post-op 90 days. Now for the past week, she began limping again, this time worse. After this surgery (TR), it was very hard for her to walk too. I think this was due to having so many CCL repairs on the other leg and wasn’t use to using the leg to walk using all her body weight. The Doctor doesn’t think it’s a torn mensicous because the clicking sounds isn’t constant. I have heard it a couple of times, but not freq. He did remove most of the mensicous. The Doctor said her knee is stable, but she is still limping. We sedated her to palpate the knee and it was stable. She is currently taking previcox, cosequin, and tramadol. So if any of you are reading this and having the same issues with your dog, please email me at justgilmore@gmail.com. I would love to hear what you guys are doing and how you’re dealing with this.

  45. My 185lb Mastiff underwent the Tightrope procedure 5 days ago and so far I’ve been very surprised by it. He was weight bearing on it the next morning when we picked him up from surgery and has been weight bearing since with no sign of pain, so he’s just on anti-inflammatories and anti-biotics. Swelling has almost gone now.

    We’ve got him confined in a pen with toilet breaks in the garden when he asks (he’s vocal about asking!) and we have to work to keep him from breaking into a trot. He does hobble a bit on it and is more ‘careful’ than usual sitting down, but so far so good.

    We opted for Tightrope rather than TPLO as I didn’t like the intrusive nature of the latter and the possibility that if things to wrong, they go very wrong!

  46. We went to Cares 215-750-2774 to have the tightrope surgery. We are in week one of recovery. pain is controlled by the medication. She is able to place small amounts of weight on the leg. We have her crated in our living room. She can see us and my husband sleeps next to her so she is not too lonely.

  47. Hi!

    My dog just had the tightrope surgey two days ago. We brought him home yesterday and he has been crying loudly non stop. I feel so horrible and don’t know what to do. I called the vet and he said “Parker was working it for attention”.

    We tried conservative management for 6 months, but it just wasn’t working. I hope I made the right choice. TPLO just seemed like too much for him. But I wasn’t expecting him to be in this much pain. It is gut wrenching.

    I am little worried about all the posts where the surgery failed after a few months. We live in a really mountainous area with lots of snow, not easy walking.

    Parker is 9 and loves to backpack. I am hoping we can backpack again.


    IVE been reading everyones story so heres mine. i have an 8 yr old sheltie /chow mix, and back in june he was chasing squirels in the park jumped on a bench and when he landed i noticed he was limping. Hes never had any health problems before, so when this happened i didnt know what to think, but dogs are tough and maybey it go away, well a few days later i took him to the vet here in FL FLORIDA ANIMAL LEAGUE. Doctor did the drawer test and said hes quite confident he has a torn cruciate and he also need to stabalize the new. a few days go bye and i hear a popping in that knee, doctor gave some antiinflammotrys. the popping goes away and ive been just watching him , no jumping running or playing rough with the other dog. then i started to put him on glucosomine chewy tablets and he seemed really good (this a month after) he would walk more. Now i she him limping again or it seems sore. This doctor seems to know that the surgery will help,im just scared to have my dog cut open and what if this doesnt work, I believe hes going to do the tightrope with the fishing line as well as stablize the knee. THe price isnt bad with pain med and xray a litle under 1,000, compared to 2000-3000 for a specialtist. i love my dog so much i dont haver the money for a specialtist and my only option is what i got. Ive also heard of this laser therapy for the same injurys, butr not 100% that it can fix the knee. With the price of the laser therapy im only a few hundred away from what the surgery cost. DR. horn says hes young and should make a good recovery but the longer i wait the more difficult will be. animals are gods angels and we are there voice and make sure they are healthy, they cant make those decions for themselves.and i have to put my mix emotions and know that it will help him? HAs anyone been through this or had DR HOrn do surgery from fl vet league?please respond back

  49. Lela –
    wondering how your surgery went. It sounds more like he did what is called a Traditional CCL Repair. My dog, Casey, is currently 6 weeks post-op from a Tradititional Repair (using the fishing line). Her progress has been good. Leash walking is her favorite thing and that is when she shows MOST improvement as far as even weight distribution, etc… But just walking around the house and when she first gets up from laying position and moves from room to room, there is definite instability in the knee still. (toe pointing and toe touching) So I’m hoping that strenghtens with time. I feel it will be a long time coming before I let her run free in a park again. We’ve just resorted at this point to longer leash walks.

  50. Hello,

    My yellow lab Britney tore her ACL 3 times since May 2010. She was scheduled for Tightrope surgery today, but I chickened out. After reading these posts about the high failure rate and complications from this surgery, I decided not to go through it. Instead, I ordered an A-Trac Dynamic Brace from Wound Wear. It is a custom made brace to fit on your dog’s knee/leg. I hope this works. I will let you all know if it helps my dog.

    1. Hi day 1 almost in the books – heres what iv learned – despite my best efforts cannot fit the E cone – dog thinks im torturing him – phychological damage looked ready to occur – i backed off & was not prepared to ice the day 1 swellin u cant directly touch with ice and dog thinks im gettin too touchy . TIP #1- purchase a different Cone collar – Petco has an inflatable “donut” collar get that much more comfy. TIP#2have your ice bags @ the ready day 1 swellin is significant.Im workin alone so its a good acurate blog exp.- With the pain meds i gave him the meds in a piece of delimeat rolled up – NO PROB he loves it – however i had to wait about half a day until he had an appetite. Also i gave him 2 pain pills (Tramadol 50 mg tablets)in bout 8 hours along with Anti inflamatory Rimadyl 100mg chewables at same time.My prescription med. 3 of 3 is anti – anxiety Acepromazine 10 mg tablets. I went to UC Davis Vetrinary …WOW – find your nearest University Vetrinary division . I paid $1500 dollars for everything . hope this helps – my list 4 today includes the inflatable cone collar more delimeat – and some goats milk so he feels like a little baby .Its 7 am so bout 2 hours ill head out. Also first bathroom break came 12 hours after getting home – he did not want to drink water for almost half a day – they re so drugged this first day , so this is all normal(yet his fist delimeat came bout 5 or 6 hors after gettin home) ok i did my part in posting info on this procedure 4 u.

    2. I just want to say that you should reconsider your decision. We completed the tightrope surgery and while it was expensive, painful, and required a great deal of time on our part it was worth the effort. We are now 8 months out from the surgery and our Maisy is able to walk, run a little, and is with management on our part living a full and happy life. But she is a 40 pound 18 month old dog so those are things you must consider. But if you go through with it know the following. You must plan on someone being in the house with the dog at all times the first 6 weeks except for 2 hour breaks. You must purchase a very large cage so your dog can stretch out when lying down. You must plan on carrying your dog the first two days or more outside to relieve himself. He will piss on himself the first few days as the medication will make it difficult for him to control himself and it will be a real strain. Also consider having part of the surgery arthroscopic.

    3. Hi All! Has been over a year since we lost our gorgeous 2.5 year old Black Lab/Newfie Cross and still hurts immensely….Your comments are appreciated and believe me when I say – my thoughts are with you all….Would definitely have bought him a knee brace knowing what we know now as his quality of life suffered far too much in those last 8 weeks….Turns out we had both an honest and not-so-honest vet working with us….And were never told the truth about the arthritis he had developed in his back. It was this that caused us to put him out of his misery but most definitely the ACL surgery that was the cause of the most misery…..We turned ourselves inside out – thinking we were spending 24/7 nursing him back to health….So heartbreaking! I urge you all to try the brace first….Bless you all.

      1. Lori,

        Please tell me what happened with your dog’s tightrope surgery. What were the complications? I need to know before I decide to have this surgery done. My dog, Britney is like family to me. I need to know exactly what the risks are with the tightrope surgery.

        Thank you,


        1. I did a great deal of research and made the decision based on my dog’s age (18 months) – weight 40 lbs and the fact that we could afford it. It was expensive, $4,500. We devoted our lives to her for 6 weeks. She was sick and out of it for weeks. She had to keep the cone on her head for two weeks and she was miserable. It was the saddest time you can imagine. But I kept thinking – if we do everything the vet says – after two weeks 5 minute walk a day for 1 week – 10 minute walk a day for the 2nd week – 15 min walk a day for the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th week. Never off the lease – no steps – no jumping on furniture – it was so difficult but I did not want our young dog to spend the rest of her life lame – so we did everything we were told to do and we had some setbacks. She got off the lease during recovering and ran outside. We could not get her back in for a few moments and we brought her back to the doctors because she was limping badly. She was OK and the doc gave us meds for the pain. We now know (9 months later) she will never be able to run for as long as she wants – short bursts and back on the lease for the rest of the life. She goes outside in the backyard when she wants but her life is different but we live with the limitations and she is happy – sometimes she/we overdue it and we give her anti-inflammatory medication the doc gave us – it helps – we keep working on balancing her life with her energy and it is no simple feat but again it is worth the effort. Read everything you can on the topic and made your decision based on what you can afford, how much time you can devote to her recovery, and what is best for your animal…

        2. Hi Susan: Omigosh….just reading these postings again after all this time and it is very hard….Poor Thor would have been heartbroken if we had to keep him on a lead versus letting him fetch & run….

          Complications: Took many months to convince the vet that he had a problem as he would run/fetch/excercise and depending on weather – could barely walk for several days afterward….Finally, after we insisted they x-ray, we were told he had run-of-the-mill arthritis in his back and given anti-inflammatories and told to rest him to allow the back to heal for a month or so….One day while simply going out in the yard – he blew out the entire knee ligament….They say there was not even a thread left. Due to the “beginning stages of arthritis” (or so we were led to believe)….we opted for the surgery – hoping to avoid arthritis in his knee……

          Long story short….he suffered immensely the entire eight weeks afterward and we, including our older Lab, Blackie, suffered with him. He was given an anti-inflammatory that almost put him in a coma after only one dose….The vet said this was not so but I took him off right away and refused further doses and went back to the tried and true meds….About a month later, she blamed this allergy on the rest on the complications? But that was her MO – to not take responsibility or investigate his symptoms. (The 2nd, older vet we saw was terrific but not always available…)
          He was allergic to the stainless they used and began to accumulate fluid in the knee….Loss of appetite…..Lethargic….Never-ending pain and agony but he was stoic thru it all….A lance to remove fluid…..Later a shunt to allow fluid to drain….(constantly laundering blankets around the house in his “new” favourite spots but that was minor)….13 trips to the vet in all over 8 weeks….A second surgery to remove and replace the stainless used in the first surgery…..more lancing…more meds…therapy…pain…no appetite…And, finally while waiting to come in from a short trip outside and simply standing outside the door (I was watching and will never forget) he completely blew 2 discs in his back….Horrifying end to this nightmare. He could not walk (despite the fact that the vet said as she looked at him that he “should” be able to walk)….This is the day we learned there were bone spurs sticking into his spinal column (from the elder vet) and the discs would continue to rupture at any given time….What a loss! Seriously, I urge you all to go first with a brace (I would happily have spent any amount of $$$) and avoid all the pain and trauma that we put Thor thru in what turned out to be the last months of his life….That first week after surgery – both my spouse and I spent 24/7 nursing him and that pattern seemed to continue for the following 8 weeks….medicine droppers (120 lb dog!) and urging him to eat via dropper….Never would I wish this on my worst enemy…..Please, please, please consider this surgery carefully….If it is possible to use a brace first and see how the dog responds after the knee heals itself….that would be my personal choice now given what I know….and surgery would be a last, last, desperate effort. My thoughts and prayers are with you Susan as I know what you are facing….If you need anything – let me know. Take care.

          1. I am so very sorry for what you went through. It was a great tragedy. I think for me (us) we had available to us a group of doctors (CARES, Langhorne, PA) who spend most of their day doing nothing but operating on dogs that have damaged their cruciate ligament. We originally took our dog to our regular vet and he said he could do the surgery but once I got on a computer and started calling people I realized the enormity of the situation. So he then recommended CARES which was located near enough that we could bring Maisy over that very day. But again Maisy was a 18 month old dog and she is 40 lbs. Which are both conditions that recommend tightrope surgery.

      2. It is always heart wrenching to say good bye to a pet. My Elle had her TPLO surgery 4 years ago. She weighs 80 lbs and an active agility dog. We just went to nationals this year and did well. I, too, wrenched immediately after her surgery. My afterthought is that I am thankful for the competetent surgeon . My daughter’s dog seems to not have made the same kind of recovery. It is the quality of life and we all try to do the best.

    4. Hi Susan, I don’t know if you are still struggling with the decision of having the surgery or not, but I thought I would offer what encouragment I could. We have a 100LB doberman Pinscher who tore his CCL. We opted to have the tightrope surgery done, and I am very glad we did. We had to keep close watch on him for a few weeks, and had to help him on stairs (wrap a towel under his belly and lift his hind legs off the ground), but everything went very smoothly. There were no complications (and he is an active dog), and he is still doing great 3 years later. Hope this helps with you decision

  51. I just wanted to throw out there (as I have not seen it mentioned)that if TTI or TPLO fails there is nothing that can be done in most cases. Tightrope and Ex-cap repair is at least fixable and usually less expensive and MUCH easier on the dog.
    One other thing I wanted to mention, is that the whining and crying thing is (in my option) more due to fear and the result they get from us, than from pain. They are animals and instinctually they do not show pain for survival reasons. Just giving my 2 cents and going by what I learned in college and working as a Vet Tech. A lot of times we need to watch for subtle signs such as grinding teeth, or not eating, to show they are in pain…may be comforting to some of you.

    1. My dog is in day 10 of his recovery from tightrope surgery. He initially was weight bearing but not any more. We have done heat, massage, and the flex exercises, but he wont stand on it. Is that normal?

  52. Thank you everyone for your opinion. I appreciate it very much. I still did not do the Tightrope surgery. I ordered a custom brace for $400 and my dog won’t wear it. She is walking on her leg now, but sometimes toe touches especially when she gets up from laying down. We have not crated her, but kept her in just 2 rooms where there is carpet for better traction. We closed off the entrance to the stairs. I am considering getting the Tightrope surgery in the summer when it isn’t so icy outside. I just want to gather as much information on this surgery, because I don’t want to make a mistake. I love my dog very much and don’t want to cause her any pain. I am afraid of complications from the tightrope surgery. Also, I want to find out data from the long term prognosis of having the tightrope surgery done.

    1. Hi Susan,
      I was frozen with indecision when my 2 year old Newfoundland tore her ccl in December. I spend hours doing research and visited two ortho specialists in the D.C. area who both recommended TPLO. Neither one would offer any other less invasive options. In the meantime, I kept her on restricted activity like you are doing now. No stairs, brief leashed outings, etc. I consulted with my regular vet and my brother, who is a human orthopedic surgeon. None of us were comfortable with the drastic bone-cutting procedure of TPLO. So, my vet called up to University of Pennsylvania Vet Hospital and talked to a specialist. He liked the idea of the Tightrope better than the TPLO. While we were waiting for our appointment to go up to Penn, the knee seemed to be getting more stable and there was definite improvement in her gait. Then, she injured the other knee! It was so much worse than the first one, because now she didn’t have a strong, stable hind leg. We met with a wonderful ortho specialist at Penn. She confirmed that both ccl’s were in fact ruptured. At this point, I felt that we had to get her some stability in the hind end. She is 140 pounds and there is no option of me carrying her around. I liked the fact that this doctor completely understood all of my concerns and did not try to talk me in or out of anything. She was very forthright about complications and about which procedures have more data on them than others.
      We had the surgery done one week ago at Penn. on the more recently torn knee. The other knee has regained enough stability that we may leave it alone after we see how this one goes. I must say that I have not had any of the horrors that some people describe. Our Gracie was putting weight on the leg the first day. She has been resting comfortably at home, and I have been sleeping downstairs with her at night. The only real problem is that she goes nuts when I try to put the e-collar on her. She rams her head into the wall to try to get it off. I choose supervising her constantly instead. She came home with a pain patch on her back instead of oral pain meds, and she was fine. Even the long distance to the hospital was not a big deal, and I was worried that it would be. I can keep you posted if you like, but so far, so good. I do believe that the quality of the surgeon and facility have a great deal to do with the outcome.
      I just wanted to let you know that I had the same reluctance (for good reason) about all of these surgeries. I was stunned to discover the lack of acceptable options that were out there, as well as the “hard sell” approach of the surgeons who want to do the TPLO only.
      I hope Britney has a good recovery. I dont know if you have considered physical therapy, but my surgeon mentioned that it can be very helpful for dogs who don’t have surgery. Something to think about.

  53. Susan – from my experience- my dog had the tightrope and evrything will b fine – (UC Davis vet hospital is terrific) however to avoid it my active Queensland heeler bull terrier -3 yr.- needed no stairs- no jumping in and out of the truck almost daily – lose 10 lbs – no running on beach(the final straw !)and finally to be placed in a queit play pen for kids , like a mesh toddler pen (2 mos.)- hope it helps.

    1. I did everything you said. The pen, no jumping, no running, leash walking slowly, flex exercises, heat, massage. My dog initially was weight bearing and now he isn’t. Its now day 10. Should I be worried?

  54. My 6 year old mix breed dog Koda (60 lbs.)had tradiotional tight rope surgery on Oct 1st. I followed the doctors Recovery schedule and in December her anti inflammatory ran out and she started using 3 legs occasionally. We got more drugs and she was doing great, still had a little limp in her walk but not 3 legged. Leash walks only, carpeted floors or in crate. Her anti inflammatory has run out again and she is limping again. When she first gets up she tends to walk on 3 legs. If I walk her she uses all four, she steps down using the front of her foot, not flat footed. Is this normal? Is there a normal? Is my dog addicted to her meds?

      1. Koda is doing good, she is no longer on any meds. She is back to all fours 95% of the time. She looks great when she is out walking. It Is funny, when she goes out for a potty break she doesn’t like to put her injured leg down on wet lawn. In the house when someone moves the dog barrier and our golden gets out onto the wood floors, Koda stays on the carpet and watches her. It is like she doesn’t want to jeopardize her leg, she has put too much work into the healing.

        We are still early in the healing. I am constantly watching her around the house analyzing how she holds her leg, places her foot do, gets up from laying down, sits, etc… It is exhausting worrying about her. When she was first injured she never showed any signs of pain, I had to really watch her eye dilation. That was the only way. It has been 5 months and I plan to keep up her confinement and leash only policy for at least 3 more months even though my recovery directions from the surgeon said after week 13 start to go back to normal activities.

  55. I think if she/he need the meds give her the meds but I think there is swelling that might also be helped with additional treatments.

  56. My dog has had the tightrope 3 times all in the same year. He did wonderful all 3 times, but it was a rough year on him. He is now acting like a puppy and jumping on his legs. This surgery was worth it totally for our dog. Yes it is a very long recovery, about 12 weeks, and with the last one it was just a bit longer.

    1. Did he have tightrope on the same leg 3 times? When was he weight bearing? My dog is on day 10 of his recovery and I don’t know what to expect. I am worried because he stopped weight bearing a few days ago.

  57. Hi All,

    My dog Harley (18 months old)went for the ACL surgery on Dec. 15th 2010. Six weeks into the recovery and she is still limping. she tor the ligament about 3 weeks prior to surgery and I thought by being a young dog she would bounce back and have a very active life. It has been the most painful and exhausting recovery I have ever gone through and my wife and I second guess ourselves for rushing into the surgery. I love my dog very much, however, if Harley’s left knee goes out, I will look to buy a brace first before putting my “family” through this again.

  58. Six weeks is a long time yes – but remember it can take upward of 6 months for a full recovery. Keep plugging away – and do everything your doctor tells you. Give it time and control his activities and environment. Harley is so lucky you are his care giver.

  59. hi its been 1 week of recovery – this is what iv learned – i didnt make him wear a funnel – and he removed 2 of 5 stitches . i will have it restiched if needed.he is trying to play on his leg day 6 . i have lots of clean sheets on the floor so he can lay around. Overall happy and taking care to not allow jumping/ or running for 8 more weeks.

  60. I congratulate you on your progress. But you may be taking a chance of re-injury during the recovery period by allowing him enough space to walk around. We placed Masiy in a very large crate. She could stretch out but not stand up or walk around.

  61. My Charlie (6 year old German Shorthaired Pointer)is at day 3 after tightrope surgery. He had limped for 6 months and 3 vets later one finally told us he had a ruptured cruciate ligament. X-rays confirmed this and he had the surgery 2 days later. First night very difficult, he is 83 lbs and we were unable to lift him, but he hopped outside, did his business and cried all night with my husabnd sleeping beside him on the floor on a cot matress and sleeping bag.
    Better the next day, same hopping outside, and to and from his water and food. Had no problem eliminating or eating. Today he has slept more, but when awake he really wants to move around. His toe of the operated leg just touches the ground and it does not seem to bother him. He has a green stocking bandage from his toes to hds poor shaved bum! We were given painkillers – one every am, and antibiotics, one am and pm. He goes back this week to have the bandage removed and the wound checked, a week later sutures will be removed. We have not needed a cone so far, but will note other advice here for when he gets the bandage off. We have the largest Vari kennel available, and it is not big enough to get him and one straight leg sticking out, into it. My husband and I have arranged that one of us will always be in the house with him to stop any rough-housing with our other dog, a female 4 year old GSP. She has been extremely good, she gave Charlie a lick on the cheek and a muzzle nuzzle when he arrived home, and has kept away from him ever since. We have high hopes this will be successful.
    I wonder if the owner who obtained a dog brace would let me know ehere to get one, as I would like him to wear it on his other back leg to support it, no one here in B.C. Canada appears to make one. Sheila

    1. How is Charlie doing now? Jasper had tightrope surgery on 2/8. He isn’t weight bearing and I am concerned. He isn’t even toe touching.

  62. Please use the sling under his backside so that he does not put weight his full weight on that back leg. The sling can be anything from a fancy one to a towel. The idea is that while weight is put down on the injured leg you are walking with the dog and removing some of the weight off of the back leg. Also if your dog is in pain it will take longer for him to recover. All the research shows us that pain during recovery from surgery can lead to extended recovery time. Take care and the best of luck.

    1. Did I read correctly that you had the surgery done at CARES in Langhorne? I am scheduled with Dr. Puerto on Wednesday and I am extremely nervouse about the whole thing. Please respond back…..Thanks so much.

      1. Hi Andrea,

        I’m looking at having the Tightrope procedure done by Dr. Puerto on Friday and was wondering how your post-op surgery went. I think my lab has now blown both CCL’s and was wondering about a double CCL tightrope surgery. The surgery has been quoted at $4,000 per leg, which seems a bit steep compared to what I’ve seen quoted on this board.

        Please reply back.

        1. Marc,
          I’m not sure where you live, but I live in NC. My dog torn her ACL & went undiagnosed for a few months. We finally figured out what was wrong & I met with several surgeons. We decided on tight-rope surgery, because we didn’t want her actual bones to be cut. The surgery PLUS 4-weeks of boarding at the vet (we live on the top floor apt. building and could not carry her down the stairs – she’s a 50pound Doberman), was only $1,800. She had surgery in early October & we have kept her quite. Her recovery was amazing. (I give A LOT of credit to having her boarded at the vet office for a month. They gave her medicine & walked her 4 times a day. I think her getting expert after-care was the best decision we made.) She’s about 95% back to the way she was. Every once and awhile she’ll make a quick hop on her leg, but other than that, zero problems. I think $4,000 for one leg is outrageous and unconscionable on the vet’s behalf.


          1. Thanks Sara,

            He’s told me that with the tightrope and Zieke’s size (85lb black lab) we are looking at a 94% chance of getting back to his pre-injury days. Dr. Puerto has done almost 100 of these surgeries so he has experience and I do trust him. But I have yet to see someone post they spent that much on this type of surgery. Zieke will be in post-op care for 2 days and this includes his medication and follow-ups. TPLO was quoted at almost $5,400 per leg!

            I live in Yardley, PA so I can imagine that the cost would be more up here, but not double. As far as I know, there are only two that my regular vet recommends in the area and both are about that price.

            It’s a hard pill to swallow knowing I’m going to be out $10k after already spending $1,500 on eye surgery when he was a puppy and he’s not even 5 yet. Glad to hear of your success though, the hope he has a happy life is the only reason I would spend this kind of money.


          2. I got an email this morning from someone who posted to this chain and thought I would drop by almost a year and a half after his surgery.

            Zieke is doing great and I didn’t have to get the second leg done afterall. I put him on Cosequin which really helped his second leg. He can run around and if he overdoes it, he’s a little sore. But overall, the surgery was a complete success. I think he knows his own bounds though so he doesn’t push it too hard on his own.

            Even though the price tag was a bit high, Dr. Puerto did a fantastic job and I would highly recommend this surgery. If his second leg goes, I’ll be going back to Dr. Puerto and paying the $4k to get his other leg done. He really did a fantastic job.

            I suppose with any surgery, you get what you pay for and it’s pretty evident with Zieke. Zieke will be 7 next March and with this surgery, I think we dramatically improved his way of life.

  63. while researching on various treatments for cruciate ligament tears, I stumbled upon this site. I am in the difficult situation of deciding what type of procedure to put my Molly through. I have been to 4 different vets and they all suggest surgery. but which type -is the key question. Tight-Rope, extracapsular, TPLO, TTA, they all have their advantages and disadvantages. my Molly is a 3-1/2 yr. old very happy and active Lab/Boxer mix and it’s just so heartbreaking that she is restricted for now to 20min. walks. I want to do a surgery that will bring her life back – chasing squirrels and birds and digging for gophers, going on long walks and playing with other dogs. I can’t believe her life is going to change so drastically by a simple twist of her leg that tore her cruciate ligament.

  64. My Lab Retriver Prince has just turned 9. He is an amazing and extremely active boy. I want to share my story. At age 6 he had TPLO on his right leg for a very bad tear. Post surgery he went through lots of pain, serious bone infection, allergy to meds, he was on morphine drip for a week, etc. It was horrible. I slept right beside him for the first week on the floor. I had to arrange to work from home, used belly band when moving around house, laid carpets everywhere, only outside on leash and very slow and even steps. My husband built a pen inside the house for him to live in as he became more active and after 3 months he went on first decent walk around the block. I followed the Vet’s recovery instructions to a tee. I didn’t let him do much and mostly on leash, and today his leg is like new. He had a couple of set backs along the way so don’t get discouraged if your pet is limping after even 10 or 12 weeks. Its a very long recovery. Two yrs later at 8 yrs old his left leg went. I was devastated. I ended up doing traditional ACL surgery as TPLO was so hard on him and vet said it would be ok as he had lost weight and it would be a quicker recovery. He still got a bone infection on 2nd leg even though he was on post surgery meds. Today its one year after 2nd surgery and his left leg still not 100%. Right leg is like new and bears most weight when using stairs. He knows he can’t jump through snow anymore but he does play and dig in the snow which is his favorite game. He does run and fetch but I only let him do short distances and I am so careful on ice, slippery floors etc. The dog spa where he gets bathed has even placed carpet runners everywhere just for him. I tried accupuncture and massage therapy for him after 6 months which I am sure helped in his recovery. Basically I have changed things to better suit his abilities and he is a very happy dog. Had he been younger I would have done TPLO on his second leg as it is just not as strong and stable. His 1st surgery was done in summer which was much easier on him, as the 2nd surgery was in middle of winter. Talk with your surgeon about which method to use based on your type of dog. That’s what helped me make my decision, his activity level and size and weight. Both my surgeons were amazing, and each uses different methods. I’ve also recently been told that by using TPLO there is less chance of arthritis, but not sure about this. Whichever method you decide, be patient during recovery and your Molly will be doing all those fun dog things, but please don’t rush it. Try to find a brace for the other leg. There was nothing available when Prince had his 1st leg done and that may have saved his 2nd leg. Its a difficult time for your pet, and they can’t tell you where it hurts so give her tons of affection and keep her still. We need to protect them. Good luck to you and Molly.

  65. thank you for sharing your story and your encouraging words. it’s doubly difficult in my situation as it’s just Molly and me here at home, and I have to work during the day. I will have to take at least 2weeks off immediately after the surgery to take care of her. I am leaning towards TPLO as I see that in 3-4 months she can be active again. the vet I consulted who does Tight-Rope procedure says she will not be able to run and jump as before with this procedure and did recommend TPLO if that was my concern.

  66. Charlie is 78 lbs German Shorthaired Pointer, and I was told it was less invasive than the other surgeries – it was also a good bit cheaper! However, who knows? At the moment he is ready to run, but when I take him out on the leash for his busines I notice he is not using that leg, although he did for the first week after his op. Whatever you decide you can crate her during the day. Charlie’s vari-kennel is the largest made, and he could not lie down in it with his bandaged leg our straight. My huband slept with Charlie the first couple of nights on a cot mattress in the floor of our living room, after that the mattress was returned to the floor of the computer room at night and the door was shut to prevent him moving around, still do that. Some people manage to barricade the kitchen or leave them in the bathroom (but knowing Charlie, he would jump in the bath and hurt himself trying to get out). Perhaps you should wait until your vacation time or hire a student to come it when you are working. Whatever you decide, good luvk to you and your dog
    Grace 256

  67. I thought I’d give an update on my Mastiff’s Tightrope as we’re now 10 months post-op.

    He had his Tightrope done last May and for the first month was fantastic. At the vet’s suggestion we then started on Hydrotherapy..and that is where things went horribly wrong. The day after his first Hydrotherapy session his knee inflated like a balloon. At first we tried to control it with ice packs, but finally the vet had to drain it and put in a shunt.

    Unfortunately at some point during that intervention, he picked up MRSA and the knee simply wouldn’t heal up. He was confined to house for another couple of months on various anti-biotic regimes, finally he had to undergo a second operation to have the tightrope removed as it was infected.

    We got lucky however because enough fibrosis had occurred in the months the tightrope was in to hold the knee steady. Post-op he had a month on daily injections and finally got the MRSA cleared. We then started a very gentle exercise regime.

    So 10 months later? Well the knee the tightrope went into (despite the fact it was removed after a couple of months) is absolutely stable. My Mastiff has his ‘mojo’ back and happily walks for an hour and even chases around after other dogs. He doesn’t experience any discomfort (he’d muzzle wrinkle when I ran my hands down his leg previously) and the only way you could tell he’s had surgery really is that if he’s been laying on it for a few hours, he’s a little stiff for a couple of minutes.

    So, we’re one who had a major complication but we got through it. I think the key for us was the veterinary team were very supportive, did many procedures at cost and simply pulled together to get him through.

    Honestly, he’s probably better today than he’s been in years!

  68. Our 114 lb. lab had tightrope surgery on both knees. I researched this extensively and talked to Dr. Cook at the University of Missouri who pioneered this procedure for dogs. We kept our lab Gunner completely off his feet for 12 weeks after surgery except when he went outside to do his business. When he did this, he had a full rear harness on, that we used to take almost all his weight off his hind legs. He slept on a twin Sealy Posturpedic mattress that was surrounded by a folding pen screen, where he stayed off his feet for 12 weeks. He received Rimadyl for a short period of time (10 days right after surgery, don’t overdue because of serious side effects) and lots of double strength Cosequin. After 12 weeks we gradually introduced activity to walks on grass and increased their duration over a full year. He has now recovered almost completely, however we don’t let him run wild in our back yard or jump around ( as into our car – we bought a ramp). His quality of life is very excellent now, even though he turned eight this last week. We are very thankful to have our baby back and have him happy and pain free again. Tightrope is a great choice if you’re willing to spend a lot of time and put in the rehab work. The first 12 weeks after surgery are CRUCIAL. I don’t know where the idea that dogs can immediately put normal weight on their knees and have normal use of their affected limbs right after this surgery came from, but it’s as wrong as can be! This is most surely what will cause this procedure to fail. Also, be sure to research your surgeon thoroughly. Get someone who is board certified as a veterinary surgeon and has extensive experience in this procedure. Lots of vets have started doing this surgery but not all of them have the experience to do it correctly.

  69. My dog’s experience. I have a 5 year old 60 lb Pit mix. First she tore her left CL. I had surgery done in Mexico by a well respected vet. It was not tightrope although he used fiber wire, he also used bone screws. My dog was putting weight on her leg in 3 days and I kept her on a leash but not ever crated. She was not motivated to walk much and I would tell her to lie down on her bed. Then she tore the right CL. I was back in Idaho and took her to Spokane for tightrope surgery. She started hydrotherapy right after stitches out and went 3 times a week to walk on the treadmill in the water. She did very well and I kept her leashed for 6 weeks. After that she was getting more active and her left leg would get sore and she would hold it up after exercising. My vet said it could “scar down” more and apparently it did because now my dog is running, jumping and playing like before surgery. I notice a little stiffness if she goes on long walks or plays hard after she gets up from her bed but all I am giving her now is glucosamine, chondroitin and msm. I am sad to read all the post-op problems others have had. My dog is 99% with little post-op care except being leash restricted.
    The Mexico surgery cost $300 and the US tightrope cost $1400.
    Good luck to all.

  70. I put Jaspers story of tightrope surgery in a day by day blog. http://lilemotional.blogspot.com/
    I hope that helps anyone on what actually happens. I included video, pictures and physical therapy steps.
    I think I would recommend the TPLO. Although we have had lots of luck with the tightrope. The surgeon’s voice made us think the TPLO would have been a better safer decision.

  71. My dog riecie had a tightrope surgery over a year and a half ago on her right knee. That surgery went great and the leg is very strong. She tore her other leg this year around Christmas. The doctor we went to did the other one and is highly recommended. The surgeries were both 2400 a piece and well worth saving her. She is a great pyreness. We are struggling with this second surgery however. She had her meniscus taken out on this leg because the doctor said that they have found dogs are better off later in life because they wont tear it. She still has the other the meniscus in the other knee though. Which is no big deal. The problem we are having is that she started off extremely strong after keeping her down for a month and a half. she was using it and the doctor said that was great. now she only uses it when she walks and has a slight limp. She will not stand on it. We are 2 months into recovery. We take her for walks and she does them very well. the only issue we have is she has a seroma on the incision area that feels hard. Not sure if this is bothering her. We have an appointment next week on march 15. This is bothering me and we are wondering if anyone knows if they think this is just a set back and if it could just be a the small seroma?

    1. Is it swollen or oozy? Does anti-inflammatories help her walk better? These would all be signs of an infection.
      If its just surface level, thats a good sign its not too serious, but if its deeper that could be a problem.
      Jasper had a seroma. The dr put him on Baytril for two weeks. It was oozy and swollen and definitely bothered Jasper to walk on it. It stopped Jasper’s progress and put him behind schedule. Jasper could hardly walk on his leg at that time without Previcox (antiinflammatory).

  72. Still deciding…. Urgh…. The brace did not work. We have Britney confined to the kitchen/family room. We walk her outside. Sometimes she walks on all fours. Sometimes she limps (toe touches) and other times she walks with her back right leg up in the air. I am terrified that the Tightrope Surgery will have complications. I can’t have the surgery done now, because I cannot take off of work to take care of her. The only option would be this summer. Should I risk the complications and get the surgery, or should I just settle for my dog limping…? It doesn’t seem like she is in pain at all. She is very happy and tries to run on her leg, but we won’t let her. What do you think?

  73. Susan,

    I went through this twice with our lab, Gunner. (see my post above)

    Contact Dr. Cook and schedule the surgery with him if at all possible.


    Keep your dog OFF HIS FEET FOR 12 WEEKS!

    Put him on a twin mattress surrounded by a dog pen fence and only take him out to do his business. Use a butt harness when you take him out. Email me if you want to know where we got our pen fence and the harness.

  74. Susan: I fully understand the fear of making the wrong decision, but doing nothing & leaving your dog in pain isn’t the answer either. A torn cruciate is a painful injury. Dogs are very good at masking their pain, so even thouh it doesn’t look like Brittny is in pain, she is. The longer you wait before the surgery, the harder the recovery will be because the dog is losing muscle tone & arthritis is building up in the joint. If I were you, I would not wait until summer, I would have the surgery over with as soon as possible. Many dog owners have had to juggle surgery & work, so it can be done. Purchase an x-pen to restrict your dog’s movement. As to which surgery to have, only you & your vet can decide that. Seek a second opinion if necessary. Personally speaking, I have rehabbed a couple of dogs through 2 extracapsular repairs, one Tightrope & a TPLO. In future, I will always choose the TPLO, hands down. It had the best results & easiest recovery.

  75. I have a bull mastiff/rotti cross. It has been a year an half since these vets did fishing line 2 100 pound lines on both sides. She has never been able to walk on that leg going on 3 years now. I have done everything chiro and acupuncture.. To no avail. It took having blood in her urine and having issues with her original vet so changed to a country vet (we moved 5 years ago but I never changed vets) that I find out the lines have been loose and rubbed the hole bigger. As this country vet did a bladder ultrasound for the problem and decided to do digital x-rays on her knee( on her dime!!) as she point blank said this is not normal!!!! So this Thursday she gets what she has now taken out.. Then 6-8 weeks hoping the bone will regenerate.. She wants to do the tightrope procedure on her. The TPLO I just didn’t like as they cut off bone so I am hoping the tightrope will finally give my girl her life back.. We are looking at at least another year but I so hope it will work this time.. Oh did I mention she has hip dysplasia worst hip on the opposite side of the bad knee.. so it is quite the plight..

  76. since I posted my indecision as to TightRope or TPLO, I would like everyone to know that after extensive research and talking to 4 different vets who do different types of surgery and also to a holistic vet, I opted for the TPLO done by a board certified orthopedic surgeon. Molly is now into her 5th week and is putting more weight on her injured leg pretty good. I immediately started strict post-op therapies and am happy to say she is recuperating quite well, although of course she is still limping and still on restricted activity, walking her always on controlled leash and a sling, and confined in a room-size area even when I’m home. it will take 2mons for the bone to heal, then another month before I can let her loose with no leash. so far there have been no complications and I look forward to full recovery after 3mos. It cost me $4,600 for the surgery. but i think it is money well spent for the quality of life that my Molly will have as she is only 3-1/2 yrs. old and full of energy as a lab/boxer mix tends to have.

  77. Have not been following this site but got a question thru email. My 60 lb Pit Mix had tightrope in Spokane. She is 2 years out and doing great. Even her first surgery done in Mexico which she later favored has healed. My vet said it could scar over and support her knee and I guess that happened cuz she uses it freely. As I said before, I went to water treadmill rehab as soon as her sutures were removed and kept her on a leash outside but never caged inside. Altho she is active she can also snooze and obeys when I tell her to lie down and be quiet. So just on a leash outside for about 10 – 12 weeks. I let her trot when the vet said ok. She is 2 years post surgery and she runs and plays like before surgery. If she goes on a long walk and overdoes running I think she gets a little sore as she seems reluctant to sit straight. Sitting straight was something she couldn’t do easily for several months post surgery but now does fine. I only have her on glucosamine/chondroitan/msm. The vet that did the surgery is Dr Ryan Brown in Spokane. Not sure what it costs now but my total charges came to $1400. I am so sorry to hear all the horror stories that other people have. Don’t know if I was just lucky or what. I was not told to restrict activity as much as many of you and Dr Brown thought it best to use the leg. That is what they tell people after knee surgery, so? Good luck to all.

  78. Our yellow lab Balou had surgery on his right knee for a torn cruciate on October 19th, 2011, at 2.5 years old. He is a large dog at 40.2 kg’s, but very muscular, not alot of excess fat on him just a large build. He had the Tight Rope surgery and had been doing great. Went through all of his medication, wants to run and play but can’t and has to be calmed down. We took him for swimming therapy for exercise and stretching which had helped alot. He tor his cruciate when he was a pup but the vet wanted to wait until he was full grown and see if there would be any improvement. He was bearing all weight on all 4’s evenly, would use his right leg for support when out for a pee and muscle mass was improving. Today, January 2nd, 2012 while he was laying on the couch with us and I was massaging his leg I felt a lump in the front of his knee, feels like fluid and moves around. He still wants to play doesnt show any sign of main other then he is not bearing all his weight evenly today and when he walks his knee looks loose. the lump is quite large, when he stands you can definately tell that it is there.

    Did anyone have a similar issue? Our vet is closed today for the stat holiday, we called the emergency vet hospital and they said if he isn’t showing pain or discomfort then to wait for our vet in the morning. He allows us to touch his leg and stretch it but it feels like a click when we bend his knee.

    If anyone can shed some light on this for me with any similar experience it would be great. He isn’t acting different, but I am still very worried… He is more like a son to us then a dog.

  79. Piper is a one-year-old 70 lb Pit Bull. She is very active and loves to run and play. We have a huge backyard and three other dogs so she is always on the go. In November 2011 we notice Piper was limping on her hind right leg, we thought she may have sprained something, but as weeks passed and the limping didn’t subside we knew something more serious was going on. She tore her CCL, I’m not sure exactly how, but I’m assuming it was all the roughhousing she did outside. We went to a local vet surgeon in Cedar Rapids and she recommened the TPLO surgery. The procedure was way too invasive, and I did not feel comfortable putting my dog through that much pain. I thought this vet was our only option, but I did a lot of looking around and calling all over the midwest to find a vet who would do the tightrope surgery on Piper for a lesser cost. My pet’s health is very important to me, but I thought it was silly to pay upwards of $3000 dollars if there was a 40-60% chance of her other hind CCL tearing. I emailed doctor Cook, the inventor of the tightrope surgery. He gave me a very quick reply, within hours, of local veterinary surgeons who were qualified to complete a tightrope surgery. I called everywhere and it seemed that each place was just as expensive…and then I lucked out. Advanced Veterinary Care in Cedar Falls, Iowa was our savior. They offerred the surgery, pre and post op care, blood screens, xrays and medicine (pain relief and antibiotics) all for a combined cost of about $900. Additional laser treatment therapy, a total of 6 sessions, was also offered and recommended for an additional $300. I consulted my regular vet about the laser therapy and he advised me that the only real time it would provide relief is immediately after surgery and the day after, otherwise it’s just an additional cost. I decided to forgo the laser therapy as we live about two hours away, I didn’t want to make the trip three times a week if it wouldn’t help out Piper. The staff were all very friendly and professional. We felt great, but sad, leaving Piper in their care. They advised us to go home and relax, and assured us the surgery would be over in approximately 7 hours including time to recover from anesthesia. We made our trip back up to Cedar Falls to pick Piper up. The doctor came out and told us it was one of the best surgerys she had ever performed. We were so relieved! Piper on the other hand was in a great deal of pain. The whole way home she cried and whined, the doctor told us this was common as she was still a little groggy from the anesthesia. The first night was the hardest. We both slept on the floor with Piper. She could not get comfortable at all and cried the entire night. We found that she favored sodium free chicken and beef broth (make sure it’s salt free, as to not dehydrate your dog!) and canned dog food for the first couple days. Slowly we started mixing in her normal hard food. She found it very difficult to go to the bathroom for the first couple days, as she could not get herself situated and stable on the one leg. Don’t worry, your dogs will get this down. After the first day things started progressing slowly for Piper, we continued to give her the antibiotics until they ran out and the pain pills, we slowly weened her off until we thought she no longer needed them. We are now 9 1/2 weeks post op and she is doing wonderfully. She started to use her leg almost 2 weeks after the surgery, just toe tapping, until about 4 weeks after she started putting more and more weight on the leg. She is now using her leg and regrowing the lost muscle mass. We are praying her other hind leg will hold out after all the weight it had to bear for a couple months! I would do the tightrope all over again if I had to.

  80. Our Ginger had tightrope sugery on Nov 8th 2011… she was doing great and we thought she was on the road to a full recovery. Then about week 12 she started to limp again. So back to the vet we went… they took an xray and manipulated the knee… the implant was in tact and the knee is stable… there is some swelling inside the knee joint itself… so back on the meds! Now its been about three weeks and she is still holding her leg up most of the time. She will put it down only when she is walking too slow to hop. She is also doing this little twitch thing with it when she squats. Anybody else expierence any of this?

  81. I am looking into stifle surgeries for my dog. Both legs. Partial tears. Dog is only about 1 year old and large -a very fit/lean 90lbs

    I have been quoted $4800/leg for TTA
    I have been quoted $3700/leg for TPLO
    Tightrope or other similar surgeries were not suggested as viable due to her size, age and the fact I wanted to do more active hobbies with her.

    1) within a 200 mile radius of Los Angeles, CA do you know anyone who does either surgery cheaper than that?

    2) anyone have any opinions about increased risk of bone cancer due to the implants?


  82. I have a 5 year old boxer who had a partial (?) tear to her left crucial ligament We tried rest along with anti inflammatory meds for a while with little progress. We chose the tightrope surgery( bad idea)for her in November of 2011. She did ok for a while and then began limping severely again in February… We took her back in to to our vet and they basically threw their hands up and said to go to a specialist. We did just that … He said that the tightrope had become infected and needed to be removed… That surgery was on March 15 2012. She was on antibiotics for 2 months and is still on tramadol ( pain)to this day. The specialist suggested water therapy for strengthening her leg muscles ( they were atrouphied because of the surgery in November and again in march) We found Holli from Aquadog in schaumburg Il…. a godsend She was patient and caring with our girl. She went swimming with Holli twice a week for about a month and then once a week for about another month… Today she is taking short frequent walks, plays fairly normally. She is a happy 5 year old boxer. Please try some sort of therapy for your baby before putting them through any surgery! Especially for both knees! You can only imagine the pain and confusion they are in while recovering. Bone cancer is huge with the TTA And the Tplo They are not only cutting the bone but are also putting a foreign body int them. We used to run our Ginger on a bike and take her to lure courses… She will never be able to do those things again but the threat of her either never being able to walk or the risk of cancer is too great for us to take the risk. My advice…if you haven’t already…get another opinion.

  83. I feel like I should share a tightrope success story. Mary Jane, my 35lb beagle/dachshund mix had tightrope done in August 2008 – she was 7yrs old at the time. Now, at almost 11 years old, she’s still doing great. She has days on occasion where her leg looks a little sore, but that’s only if we go to the dog park or is unusually active. Otherwise, she lives a completely normal life, running around the yard, rough-housing with our other dog, and even jumping up on the window seat.

    Definitely find a Board-certified surgeon (Dr. Lirtzman in Scottsdale, AZ is fantastic)! A top-notch staff is helpful as well – they called us every day after MJ’s surgery to make sure she was doing ok. Follow all recovery instructions. We kept a crate in our bedroom and a crate in the living room so she could always be near us, but not moving around. I worked from home for a week so I could keep an eye on her during the day. You feel guilty keeping them confined for 8 weeks, but if you don’t follow the instructions, why are you even spending the money?

    The surgery was not cheap – $3000, but I would question any doctor that is offering it for significantly less. Again, make sure they are Board-certified, with top of the line facilities.

    Unfortunately, now my other dog has torn his crucial ligament as well. He’s the same age and size that Mary Jane was when she had her surgery, so we plan to go to Dr. Lirtzman for the tightrope procedure for him as well.

  84. Hi, my Newfoundland just turned three last sunday. Before she was two, she tore her left ccl. After reading about all the options, I opted for the tightrope procedure done by Dr. Schultz in Okemos, MI. She had the surgery and both mensci were shredded they had to be removed. She came home with me that night. You must have a strap. She hobbled on three legs. She put her toes down within 3 days. The first night was the worst. The hydromorphine makes animals cry. I was worried she was in pain or had to go potty and was up with her all night. In a week she put her foot down. We were to start short walks and increase as tolerated. She recovered fully. Over a year after the surgery, she sprained her left knee. She was limping and then holding it up. She had a cortisone shot and had some improvement. During this time her right ccl ruptured. She went to dr. Schultz on a Tuesday evening, had the tightrope surgery Wednesday and a hyaluronic shot in her left knee while under anesthesia. She wasn’t to come home until she out her foot down. She came home that Friday. She did have to have her lateral meniscus removed as it was shredded. Her foot was down. Her strap is on, but barely needed. She is getting up on her own and going potty. We started short walks as instructed on Saturday. This second surgery so far has gone much easier. The prognosis was not good going into the surgery with a left knee sprain and when the ccl ruptured she was acting like she was paralyzed. The x-rays done under anesthesia this time showed slight laxity in her right hip. I too was hearing a clicking after her left ccl surgery and thought it was the implant. We now know that her hips had changed in a year and that’s where the clicking is coming from. I couldn’t be more pleased with her progress so far. Much better than the previous surgery. I couldn’t justify the tplo. Dr. Schultz has done many of these surgeries on dogs over 100 lbs. as stated in previous posts dr. Cook will email you a list of surgeons in your area. Make sure you find out how many they’ve done especially large breed dogs. Dr. Schultz and his staff are wonderful and has a top notch clinic. The infection and failure rate are much higher for a tplo and this surgery is less invasive. Dr. Schultz explained in depth why he wouldn’t do a tplo. My baby will be on antibiotics for two weeks and pain meds. Dr. Schultz does his own design of internal sutures. No stitches to be removed. From thinking my beautiful baby was going to have to be put to sleep to this amazing start to her recovery is simply amazing. Do your research, a lot of surgeons that are doing the tightrope aren’t certified or have only done a few. Dr. Schultz, his staff and clinic is top notch and has the latest technology. My Vet observed the first surgery and couldn’t believe the equipment and the after care. They rotate the dogs every 10 minutes to prevent kidney issues. I couldn’t be more pleased. Dr. Schultz and his staff are not only very knowledgeable, but extremely compassionate. She’s five dats out and getting up on her own, going for five minute walks and acting like her normal self. Her pain is controlled. My family and friends are simply amazed.

  85. Irene is a 130 lb. mix German Shepard/Boxer. Her left leg had tight rope surgery in Jan 2016, and our Fayetteville NC vet said that tight-rope was very meant for dogs under 100 pound, and Irene weighed 117 then. Surgery went very well, with only a slight limp at 2 weeks. At 4 weeks she was running with our lab in the field almost dailey. WELL sure enough, last summer she began to have a limp with her right leg, after much acitivity. We tryed for 6 months to limit her running, but she would be normal for a week, then began to limp again slightly. Rather than wait for a full CCL tear we took he in Dec. 27th 2017 for the right knee surgery, and she was slightly above 130 lbs. She recovered and healed great at the 14 day mark, with only a slight limp. Bust we have harwood floors and she began to slide and slip occasonally. Day 17 she was holding her leg completly off the floor. I think she slipped. We gave her a week to see if she would recover on her own, but very little improvement, at day 23. We took her in and the vet said the ligament on the outside of the knee, had ripped loose, and he would need to go back in and sttach a screw with an extra band at the tear site. I waited 2 days for the “Moon & signs” to be best for surgery, and was performed Jan 23rd. After overnight surgery , her leg looked Blueish Black, and was swollen much worse than a month earlier. The first week was tough, with her barely putting 10% of her weight on the knee. Day 15 the stitches & metal clamps were removed from her 9 inch incesion. She was limping for the first 10 steps, but only a noticable limp after warming up a bit. We ate at 3 week 5 days now and after 15 steps she has barely any limp, almost normal, BUT we are only allowing her to walk 4-5 minutes in the yard 4 times a day. It has been a tough 7 weeks, since the 1st surgery, and we are going to limit her walks till March 5th, and then a bit more cautious exercise.

  86. Hello, I am strongly considering Tight Rope surgery for my pittie. He had TPLO on his right leg 5 and 1/2 years ago and recently tore his CCL on his left leg. While his TPLO was successful, the procedure is invasive and the recovery is very long (I had him crated for 16 weeks the last surgery). If I can avoid the trauma of cutting the bone again, I will. Has anyone from the Connecticut area recently had their dog undergo the Tight Rope procedure. It seems that there isn’t anyone around the are who performs it. Please let me know if you have found a good surgeon in the area. I am willing to travel somewhat but the distance needs to be logical for follow-up visits.

    Also has anyone recently had their dog go through this surgery and what has success/recovery been like?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Had both legs of 125 lb “Big Red”, mixed bred, done at age 7 left leg, then right leg went out in Jan 2019. First surgery went great, 10 days with the neck cone, and very little limp after 5 weeks. 2nd surgery for some odd reason, required a repeat surgery after 5 weeks, as she was limping very bad. She recovered slower (7 weeks) with 10% limp, and even now she may limp slightly for 15 steps, after laying on that side for a hour. We live in central NC, and same as you, had a problem finding a Vet that did “tight-rope”. We were lucky to find an older Vet, a hours drive away, who actually sleeps in his Clinic the night after surgery, to make sure she has no issues. On the PLUS side, he was very reasonable in surgery charges. We have apx $4,500 in charges for all 3 operations in 2017 and 2018! I still “cringe” now. when she does an 80 yard dash, chasing after Deer in a field behind our country home!

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