Rocky, a 6 year old, 120 lb. pit bull/mastiff mix, had his left knee repaired a couple of years with arthroscopic surgery. Although his recovery was very slow and his pain level quite high after surgery, he did fine after a while.
Last spring he began to intermittently limp on his right leg, and I immediately brought him back to this "renowned" hospital and was told he had a partial tear of the ACL. He initially seemed to progress very well after his July 1, 2000 arthroscopic surgery, consisting of a "condyle strap," but after about three weeks, he stopped putting his right leg down altogether.
First I was told that his failure to use that leg was really due to a herniated disc in his lower back, but then the vet ventured that the knee surgery had failed. Rocky underwent another arthroscopic surgery on August 1, and it was determined that he had broken one of the sutures which was poking into his capsule. The other suture had stretched. Surgery consisted of trying to stabilize the knee with disolvable sutures in the medial and lateral capsule.
Rocky did very poorly after this surgery. He limped badly and put his leg down less and less. Moreover, he developed an infection. I resisted more surgery to drain or remove this infection, treating him with antibiotics and moist hot packs around the clock, which resolved the infection. While he valiantly tried to go on his short walks, he finally refused to go out of the door on 9-13-00. I brought him back to the hospital.
The vet insisted that the knee was fine and that the problem was really in Rocky's back. Supposedly a second MRI had shown a herniated disc at L7/S1 and he attributed Rocky's failure to walk on the ruptured disc. He urged me to have Rocky undergo back surgery, stating that with the back surgery, he would have a 85% chance to walk again. He was willing to do this surgery right away.
This vet became rather upset when I told him that I wanted to get a second opinion and was going to take Rocky out of the hospital. Thank God for the Internet! I learned that the TPLO was quite successful and this site gave me invaluable information. I initially brought Rocky to a vet in L.A. who immediately told me it was a "no brainer" that Rocky's problem was the knee. I then called the Slocum Clinic and was told that Dr. Robert Olds, on Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles, had a lot of experience with revisional TPLOs on dogs who had failed "traditional" surgeries. Moreover, they told me that he is a wonderful, caring person, and I sure found that to be true.
Although Rocky's medial meniscus is practically gone after all of his valiant efforts to walk after the failed surgeries, he doing great after his 10-4-00 TPLO. He never was in acute pain after the surgery. Dr. Olds used sutures instead of staples, minimizing the trauma to the leg. Rocky now is trotting and even running although he still has a slight little limp when first getting up from the couch. He is happy and boisterous and finally pain-free.
Dr. Old never recommended total confinement, just a small carpeted room and he felt so confident in the correct placement and strenth of the metal plate that he encouraged movement within reason. Of course no initial jumping and romping around.
After four months of acute pain (despite Rimadyl, Feldene and Prednisone), Rocky is now his old happy, mischievous and rumbunctious self. The only medication he had after the TPLO were antibiotics and Rimadyl for ten days. BTW, I was never told by his first vet that TPLO was an option. So, please, do get a second and even a third opinion! It saved my Rocky's life. I shudder to think what might have happened had I consented to the useless back surgery. He still wouldn't have been able to walk and I might have given up and have him euthanized him to end his pain.
My love to all of you who are obviously concerned about your dogs. They are such amazing and understanding gifts to us.