Tightrope Repair Complications – Axel

I have a 3 year old Rottweiler, Axel. I think the problem started in June 2010, during a dog park playdate. After then he was limping on his back right leg. I took him to the vet and she said that it was a partial tear, so to keep him calm and give him pain meds. It finally got better and he was back to normal. We have regular long walks.

In May 2011, after an uneventful walk, I noticed he was limping on the same leg, and eventually not bearing any weight on it at all. I took him back to the vet and they said he had torn his acl and needed surgery. I shopped around the area for reccomendations for good surgeons. I ended up at a different vet then we usually went to. The vet strongly suggested against the TPLO surgery.

We had the Tightrope surgery done in June 2011. The day after the surgery, Axel was already putting more weight on then before. The vet said to keep to confined and to leash walk him. Axel, being the biggest Momma’s boy and cuddle bear, could not stand to be away from people. I felt like it was doing more damage then good, when he would constantly scratch at the door. So we kept him on a leash 24/7 with us.

The first two weeks of recovery went great, the vet was very satisfied with his recovery.

After 3 weeks of him seeming to be putting almost all weight back on the leg and him being fairly lazy, we let him off the leash in the house. July 4th weekend did it, he went running and jumped while fireworks were going off. After this weekend he was back to limping. The vet could feel a drawer effect in his knee again and thought he had broken the suture. He thought that it must of broke and was rubbing and causing irritation, causing the limping.

They did a second surgery the last week of July to take the suture out. They found that he didn’t break the suture, but it was rubbing on soft tissue, causing him pain. The surgeon said he had some scar tissue formed and he should be fine without the suture. Although, since the second surgery Axel has been worse then even before the orignal surgery. He barely puts any weight on it, holds it up, can barely stand up for very long without being in too much pain and sits or lays down. He just looks depressed and in pain, and it kills me to see him like this.

Personally, I am very upset with the surgeon’s decision. I dont think he should of take the suture out if it wasn’t broken. He is a 120 lb dog and if they believe he could break a 180 lb strong suture, he could just as easily break a small amount of scar tissue. I know it’s my fault as well, I should of done a better job at keeping him confined. Although I can’t help but think that just a movement of the suture would of been better then removing it completely.

Almost $3000 spent, I only have so much more I can spend. Where I am now, is having waited over a week to hear back from my vet from trying to contact the surgeon. I have no idea what the surgeon is going to say, but I’m not sure if another surgery to put the suture back in is best. I think that the extra support will be good, although I don’t know if i can put my baby, or realistically my bank account, through another surgery.

I’m looking into getting Axel a brace, although I’ve been researching them online and cannot really find any reliable sources of whether it has worked and which kinds are best. In the beginning I asked the vet about these braces and he didn’t reccommend them. Now I definately regret not getting on for after extra support for after the surgery. If anyone has found a brace they have truely been satisfied with, or suggestions about surgery could you please help me?

13 thoughts on “Tightrope Repair Complications – Axel

  1. Hi there,

    Not sure when you posted and what is currently going on with your situation…
    I am in a similar situation so would love to know what info you have found.

    1. I am surprised that you got an extracapsular surgery for your Rottie. My 2 year old Rottie just got a TPLO.. In all my research I found that extracapsular surgeries were not recommended for large dogs. I never even considered them. I wonder if that wasn’t the ultimate problem.

      1. In your research did you learn that complications from TPLO can be catastrophic and lead to amputation? In addition, Dr. Cook created Tight Rooe for large dogs. How’s he doing?

  2. Our Australian Shepherd is coping very well with a back left leg brace from WoundWear.com to help him manage a partially torn ACL. It’s buying us some time until we choose a vet to do Prolotherapy.
    He functions very well with it on and even seems hesitant to do too much around the house in the morning until he’s braced. He instantly can bear weight on the leg once it’s on.
    It does impede him from using the Doggie Door but we’re vigilant in letting him out into the back yard. He’s been using it for about 3 months and we’ve seen him run occasionally with it on without injuring himself.

    1. So much has happened since I left the post above. Doc had a complete healing according to the vet, albeit without another xray. One problem that is known to happen when a dog has this type of injury is that they will shift their weight to the other hind leg, causing stress. Not knowing which came first, Doc tore his other ACL while doing a burst run that Aussies are prone to do and later was diagnosed with adrenal (non-tumorous) Cushing’s disease. I ordered a fresh brace for the previously injured leg and a new one for the newly injured leg. It was a miracle to see his walking ‘normally’ with both braces on. After a while, we put the more flexible brace posts in and the segue to periodic use on busier days. Cushing’s could’ve brought these tears on or the pain and stress could’ve exacerbated it into happening. Two vets really don’t know.

      He’s well managed on home made food (extremely low fat/no grain for Cushing’s), Vetoryl, Omega 3, stress B’s, Jarrow Adrenal Optimizer, Celadrin is EXCELLENT for human and dog joint conditions – please read up on it – and Dr. Christopher’s Bone and Tissue supplement.

        1. No, we never did prolotherapy although I’ve heard good things about it.

          The braces, Trilostane (generic Vetoryl through Diamondback Vet Pharmacy) and nutrition have accomplished full function for him. “Doc” had been a neglected ‘street pet’ wandering from home to home because of poor ownership before I moved in so his early nutrition wasn’t great and I don’t know if that impacted his body tissue quality.

          Because of Cushing’s and his “knee’s”, he’s currently maintained on lowest possible fat homemade diet, occasional raw meaty bone for teeth, 27.5mg Trilostane, powder Vit D3, CoQ10, Bluebonnet beet Brewer’s Yeast, “Dog Greens” on Amazon. Organic collagen powder and Dr. Christopher’s Complete Tissue and Bone have helped to grow back his fur and strengthen/renew cartilage in stifles.

          Yes, TMI, haha! but hopefully helpful for someone!

  3. You can’t use a brace after TR. tiggerpaz has got it right that surety is a last resort. All these risks of complications. It’s not worth it. The bone fuses. Conservative worked for my 90 pound dog. Just learn how to restrict them. It takes a long time but the dog compensates for the loss of the ligament as scar tissue develops. These operations are risking infection and other complications NONE of them are safe.

    1. Why can’t you use a brace after tightrope? I was thinking that maybe using it in conjunction could be a good idea to help keep the knee even more stable to prevent the suture or line from breaking/tearing during post op? Where is my line of thought wrong on this… honestly I am asking as this was someone (a brace and surgery) I was thinking about pursing?

  4. Do not do TPLO unless you cannot find a doctor who will do tightrope on your dog — of ANY size. You don’t cut bone and create unnatural knee angles because ‘it works in humans’ to have a knee at that angle.

    It also work in humans to have ACLs blow out left and right with that angle.

    Conservative is conservative. 100% all in or not. 6-8 weeks no stairs, no jumping, no walks. glucosamine sulphate (not hcl), quercetin, etc. Hot cold contrast therapy. In and out for bathroom breaks.

    If at that point you see no benefit. No return to 30-40%, then seek out the best surgeon you can find. Not the local yocal.

  5. Conservative care for 6 year old labrador’s knee injury. Bought a brace from Mypetsbrace.com. The brace worked well and the vet was impressed by the brace. I would definitely recommend a brace from this company. He is 11 now and his knee is stable. He no longer needs the brace.

    Have another lab who tore his ccl at age 1.5 years. He had tightrope surgery. Things have gone well and then he was lame again after about 5 months. Vet said he injured his iliopsoas muscle. After laser treatments and hydrotherapy he was back to normal. He has now reinjured his iliopsoas. Vet tells me it is not the knee, that it is still stable.

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