Maxwell is a 103 lb Rhodesian Ridgeback mix in excellent athletic shape and very active. At 4 years old (last year – summer 2013) he tore his CCL on his left stifle completely while running and turning quickly. My normal vet said I would have to seek out a surgeon, she was unable to offer any surgical options.
Finding a Tightrope Repair Surgeon
I contacted 5 different surgeons in the Tampa, Florida area – all were completely focused on the very invasive TPLO or TTA procedures. Extracapsular Imbrication (some people refer to this as the “fishing line fix”) was not indicated for a dog Maxwell’s size. Ironically – I’m an engineer who works in the Human Sports Medicine industry and I was completely against the very invasive and aggressive TPLO and TTA procedures… so I went out of my way to find a surgeon with a long line of success using the Arthrex Tightrope procedure. (…and no, I do not work for Arthrex!) This procedure is truly different than anything I mentioned above. I finally did find a surgeon to do the job.
Tightrope Knee Surgery + PRP
This surgeon combined the Tightrope procedure with PRP (put simply, PRP uses your dog’s own blood plasma then concentrates the platelets in the plasma. The surgeon then applies this, within the surgical site, to promote faster healing.)
Tightrope Surgery Recovery
The end result was that Maxwell was touching his toes within 2 weeks and taking short walks within 4 weeks post op. We strictly followed the passive exercise (also known as PROMs) instructions, using ice packs and 10 minute intervals of full movement. At 2 months he was walking normally, but tired easily. At 6 months, if you didn’t notice the 2-inch scar, you wouldn’t have known anything had happened.
I can say, honestly, I would recommend this procedure – but I would caution that you should GRILL the surgeon:
How many has he/she done?
What has his/her success rate been?
What, if any, complications have they recorded?
Do they use PRP along with the Tightrope?
Will they be doing this arthroscopically?
If you get answers that make you less than enthusiastic… you have the wrong surgeon. If you get picture-perfect answers… you may still have the wrong surgeon. I wanted experience; I asked for references to other clients he had done. Do your homework. This surgery is highly dependent on technique and experience. It was comparative in price to a TPLO or TTA. It cost me about $3500, not including post-operative medicine (antibiotics, anti-inflamatories, and pain killers).
Maxwell was predicated to have a 60% chance of the right stifle needing the same surgery. We’ll wait and see I suppose.