We decided, after attempting a few months of conservative management (CM), that we should proceed with surgery. During our try with CM, Tucker’s veterinary surgeon was trying to push us into the tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO). He reasoned that because of his sized and (high) activity level, that Tucker would fair better with this more invasive procedure. He reassured us that he was Slocum TPLO certified and had performed a “number” of the same procedure on dogs of Tucker’s size with great results. We had done some reading of our own at this point, including studies done by the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Center, and agreed with UPenn’s findings that the risks and cost of the TPLO do not outweigh the benefit.
Needless to say, we were not sold. We knew that our vet also performed traditional repairs, and told him that after our reading, research, and talking to other owners, that we felt the traditional extracapsular imbrication technique would be better suited for Tucker. All surgery has risks, but the traditional repair carries less risk in that there is no cutting of bone, realignment of stifle (knee) angles, it is a shorter operation, and is a less technically demanding procedure than the TPLO (which to us meant less room for error). We also knew that if for some reason the extra capsular method failed, we would always have the option of correcting the knee with either TPLO or TTA.
Our veterinarian did agree to perform a traditional repair on Tucker, and as soon as we had worked out the details for the surgery, we hit another wall. Our vet (like many) prefers to have his surgical patients stay the evening so they may have the proper pain medications and remain confined for the night after surgery. This would have been fine if he ran the type of clinic that had staff present 24/7, but this is not the case. I had to do a double take when I thought about what he was proposing – Did he really want me to leave my beloved dog, all doped up, chopped up, and confused, all alone in a barren veterinary clinic to be checked on “once or twice” throughout the evening?!
I told him he was crazy. No, really, I told him there was absolutely no way my husband and I were going to leave Tucker in that office all night, alone, to be checked in on “once or twice”. In hindsight, this was the point where I probably should have sought out another physician, but I really trusted this guy, I knew he did good work and I really just wanted Tucker to start feeling better. After a few minutes of protest, the vet gave in and let us know that we would be ok to take our boy home that evening, the same day of surgery, we just needed to make sure he was there first thing in the morning so he could be the first canine patient for the day.
We scheduled the surgery for a few weeks out, and crossed our fingers that within a few months Tucker would be back to himself.