While I am writing this, my female Labrador Retriever, Dakota, is undergoing bilateral TPLOs (August 28th). She is 7 years old, but when she was 6 months old, she tore her right anterior cruciate ligament when she got her leg stuck between some rocks while on the beach during low tide in Northern California. She had an external capsular stabilization procedure, which went on to fail. The surgeon wanted to re-operate, but we decided to wait and see how she did without it.
A year post-op her regular vet felt that she had developed enough scar tissue that she had a fairly stable knee. Through the years, she has always favored that leg, and if she ran vigorously on the beach, she would come up lame that night or the next day. This past summer, again, while running on the beach she most likely tore her left anterior cruciate ligament as she came up lame, with NO weight bearing on her left leg, which was the leg she normally put most of her weight on.
I started reading on the Internet about TPLO and called the Slocum Clinic and was referred to a local veterinarian who did the procedure. When I called him, he was getting ready to leave on vacation but suggested that I bring Dakota on in and he would examine her to determine if she had torn her left cruciate ligament. He did verify that she had indeed torn her left cruciate but that she also was unstable on the right and recommended that she have bilateral TPLOs. Since he would be gone for two weeks on vacation we scheduled surgery for August 28th. Now I am waiting to hear how she has done, they told me since she was having it done bilaterally, she would have to stay a little longer in the hospital post-op as the staff would be able to keep her quiet, so I am currently waiting for a phone call from the hospital to let me know how it went. As soon as I know more, I will post the results.
UPDATE: August 21, 2000: It is now post-op day #1 after Dakota underwent bilateral TPLOs. Her surgery took most the afternoon, and I didn't hear from the vet hospital before I had to go out somewhere in the evening, so my husband called and was told that she had just gotten out of surgery, she was able to lift her head, but not yet able to sit. This morning I called and spoke with the vet tech that assisted in surgery, he told me that they found quite a bit of arthritic changes both on x-ray and during the surgery in her right knee that had previously had the external capsular repair. This was nothing new to me, I knew that she had an arthritic right stifle joint secondary to the failed repair from 7 years ago.
The vet tech wasn't sure of the exact amount, but I asked him what her angles of her tibias were. He thought that her right knee was 32 and her left was 28 degrees. I will ask the veterinarian more about that later. My 13 year old son was very concerned about her, so I asked if we were allowed to visit her and was told a most definite yes, and anytime. So today, we went as soon as school was out to visit Dakota. She had purple bandages on both legs and was totally shaved on her whole backside, so she somewhat resembled a lab poodle, as she still had her hair on her tail. She seemed pretty excited to see us, and her tail was wagging the usual 60 mph. She had her e-collar on, and I know she doesn't like that. She wasn't able to stand up, but could bring herself to sit, although it looked extremely awkward, so I kept her sidelying on her left side while we talked to her and petted her. The vet thinks she will be in the hospital until at least Thursday, August 31st, but will have to see how things go to make a final decision. More to come.
UPDATE: September 2, 2000: I brought Dakota home from the hospital on post-op day #3. She seemed to be feeling pretty frisky, and it was hard to keep up with her using the towel sling. She seems to be bearing weight pretty well on the left side, with what appears to be slightly less weight on the right. The vet tech felt the biggest problem would be keeping her quiet, and not active. He asked if I would like any tranquilizers, and I decided that it might be a good idea, if she got to feeling too frisky. The second day home, she seemed to be wanting to run around, and I was worried that she just might do that, so I gave her one tranquilizer pill (instructions were 1-2 every 6-8 hours), well, that one pill really made her lethargic, and she slept most of the time. Her eyes were so droopy, she looked like a Bassett hound!
Today is post-op day #6, and she is feeling better everyday. Her legs are not so swollen and bruised, and we have to be very careful to keep her confined. Her gait is looking more normal, with what appears to be equal weight bearing on both back legs now.
UPDATE: September 30, 2000: Dakota is now almost 5 weeks post-op from her bilateral TPLOs. Her left
leg is doing just great, the incision has been totally healed for a couple weeks and she has no problem with that leg.
The right leg, unfortunately, the incision opened up, the vet felt it was just from motion, and she had to be re-stapled and bandaged with a Robert Jones bandage for a week (this was aout 3 weeks post op). Last week the staples were removed, she still had a small open spot, but now at almost 5 weeks, the incision is finally closed. She still has a visible limp on the right, but she always has had a limp since she tore that cruciate as a puppy. Her hair is finally growing back, and she is starting to look more normal.
One word of advice, after the right incision wouldn't close, I started to tranquilize her every day, so that basically she just slept most of the day, or was fairly calm. I think this was most instrumental in getting that right incision to finally close, because it seemed that the more active she became, the more she stressed that site. It seems that as the days progressed, she obviously had less and less discomfort and wanted to do more and more. Although I didn't want to drug her everyday, I think that in retrospect, I should have given her tranquilizers daily after I brought her home so that she WOULDN'T want to run or jump or anything like that.
We go for x-rays at 6 weeks, and so I will let everyone know how her bone healing is at that time.
Update: October 20, 2000 On October 12 I took Dakota to the vet for her 6 week check up and xrays. Well, the left knee is doing just great, and you can even see new bone formation over the site of the osteotomy, but bad news for the right knee. Because of her previous external stabilization done for her cruciate tear 7 years ago, the tibia on the right was more fragile, and upon viewing the xrays it was evident that she had an avulsion fracture of the tibial tubercle where the patellar tendon inserts.
So, on Friday, October 13 she had another surgery, a pin and k wires were put in to stabilize the fracture site and promote healing. She had to stay in the hospital one night and I picked her up the next morning. As far as it bothering her, it doesn't seem to be, and she is bearing weight almost equally on both legs.
She does look a little funny as she has 3 different lengths of fur now -- her normal coat, then the regrowing hair from her original surgery, and now a shaved right leg again. So, it's back to the e-collar, and I have been giving her tranquilizers daily, as she just seems to feel too good, and wants to do too much.