"Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?
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Thread: "Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?

  1. #1
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    Default"Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?

    Nemo had traditional cruciate surgery (not TPLO) about 16-17 weeks ago. We were hoping that he would be nearly 100% by now, but after walking, running, swimming, or just laying down for a little while, his knee "clicks" and he limps for various amounts of time. If he plays hard, he will "toe-touch" for a while afterward. If he has just laid around for a bit, when he gets up, he has to "walk it off" and then still leans to one side when he stands. The PT people, when they saw him last said that he was coming along great, and was ahead of schedule, and they said we were doing wonderfully with him at home, stretching his leg (great flexibility!) and exercising him every night (sit/stands and swimming). I don't know what happened, but it now seems like he is back to where he was before the surgery, being able to do things, but limping afterward. I may have the vet check for drawer sign again. Nemo is 3 yrs old and 85 lbs. The vet says he looks absolutely great, and is not overweight at all (he's a big boy). Has anybody had any experience in seemingly "failed" surgeries? Am I just expecting him to be all better too soon?

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  3. #2
    Labs4me is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: "Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?

    Sounds like you are letting him do too much too soon. He should still be taking it very easy. A full recovery does not happen until 6-8 months. He should still be on leash outside at all times and no running, rough housing, ect. I have been thru 2 of these with different dogs. They (the dogs) feel so much better after the surgery that they think they are 100% but you really need to make them take it easy so they don't hurt themselves again.
    Bonnie ~ Ellsworth Labradors
    Home to Ellsworth's Playing For Keeps CGC, U-CH SHR Ellsorth's Absolut Pleasure, Ellsworth's Good Luck Charm
    Gone but not forgotten: Franklin's Lucy of Ellsworth; Franklin's Rare Treat; U-CD Franklin's Rockin' Robin CDX, WC, CGC; Alpha-Omega's Mustang Salli CDX, CGC

  4. #3
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    DefaultRe: "Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?

    I was told by the PT doctor to "swim the hell out of him", and that he was looking so good that being offleash was probably OK. I appreciate your insight. I think I will take him to the vet anyway, to see if maybe we hurt something, or wrecked our progress with his exercising. one thing that bothers me greatly is that he has a very hard "nub" under the skin at the location of the surgery, like it was a knot for the ligament replacement sutures. But I don't remember it being there before. I am wondering if he could have built up a bone spur or something that might be irritating him from the inside or something unexpected lke that. Do you recall if your surgeries ever had that sort of thing?

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  6. #4
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    DefaultRe: "Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?

    I hope Nemo is okay?? We are 10 weeks post-op with our puppy Fergus who had the traditional done as well. Swimming should not be a problem...we've been doing swimming rehab with Fergus twice a week since 4 weeks post-op. It's probably the best exerscie since there is no impact on the knee like walking, so it's great for muscle building and tiring them out! Do you take him to a pool or is he doing his swimming at a local lake or ocean?? I only ask since it's like Labs4me said....he really shouldn't be off leash running and roamping around. So it might be too much if he's running in and out of the water and stuff. We take Fergus to an indoor pool for dogs where he gets one on one 30 minute sessions, so there is no playing with other dogs or running in & out of the water up & down the beach. Other then the two swimming sessions we walk him onleash only and try to keep him as quiet as possible in the house (which we haven't done too well with)!!Fergus tore his ACL at 6 months old and then we had to wait until he was one before he could have the surgery, so I know what it's like to have a young dog go through this.


  7. #5
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    DefaultRe: "Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?

    Nemo is entirely offleash at present. Neither my regular vet or the PT vet had a problem with that. nemo had PT swimming at 4 weeks as well, and after 7 visits, they told me not to bother anymore, and that he was looking great. They gave me exercises to do with him at home and said he should be fine over time. I take him to a ressevoir and he trots offleash all the way in to the swimming area (1/4 mile). Then he does some pretty spirited "anticipation" stuff while we are throwing sticks for him. I went back to my PT vet one night after a fetch and swim session, and he said that if he is still limping, he probably will for the rest of his life, and that I should give him anti-inflammatories whenever he will be active. He said it was just an inexact science. I had heard such good things about surgery recovery rates though, that I just can't help but think Nemo should be doing better. It sounds like I will have to back off on the exercise for another couple months, though I thought i was doing "approved" levels. I really hope we didn't ruin anything inside his joint with his running around!

  8. #6
    Labs4me is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: "Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?

    I dug out the instructions I was giving with my dogs:
    By 10-14 days after the surgery your pet should be able to to touch the toes to the ground at a walk. From this point on, the lameness shoud gradually resolve. By 4 months after surgery your pet should be using the limb very well.
    Exercise: Limit activity for the first 12 weeks. No running, jumping, climbing stairs or roughhousing with other pets or people. Strenuous activity can break down the surgical repair that was performed, thus preventing successful recovery. Over the next 4 week the excercise can ge gradually increased on a leash.
    Expected course of recovery: By the end of the first month, your pet should be toe touching but still limping badly on the operated limb; by the end of 8 weeks, your pet will be able to use the limb as well as it did at the time of presentation (day of surgery) or be 20% improved; by the end of 12 weeks, your pet will be about 70-80% improved; and when the pet is 6 months out from surgery, its function will plateau at 85-95% of normal.

    **Short walks at first 50-80 yards daily for first week. Then double the distance each week.
    **Swimming after 10 days. Deep water is best so that it is not weight bearing. Start at 1-2 minutes, and double every 3-4 days.


    Neither one of my dogs ever developed a bump like what you are refering to. What kind of stitched did he have? Sometime those disolvable stiches don't always disolve and maybe there is still some of that there? I think that it is a good idea to take him to the vet to get him checked out anyway. Please let us know what the vet says.
    Bonnie ~ Ellsworth Labradors
    Home to Ellsworth's Playing For Keeps CGC, U-CH SHR Ellsorth's Absolut Pleasure, Ellsworth's Good Luck Charm
    Gone but not forgotten: Franklin's Lucy of Ellsworth; Franklin's Rare Treat; U-CD Franklin's Rockin' Robin CDX, WC, CGC; Alpha-Omega's Mustang Salli CDX, CGC

  9. #7
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    DefaultRe: "Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?

    Quote Originally Posted by Labs4me
    I dug out the instructions I was giving with my dogs:
    By 10-14 days after the surgery your pet should be able to to touch the toes to the ground at a walk. From this point on, the lameness shoud gradually resolve. By 4 months after surgery your pet should be using the limb very well.
    Exercise: Limit activity for the first 12 weeks. No running, jumping, climbing stairs or roughhousing with other pets or people. Strenuous activity can break down the surgical repair that was performed, thus preventing successful recovery. Over the next 4 week the excercise can ge gradually increased on a leash.
    Expected course of recovery: By the end of the first month, your pet should be toe touching but still limping badly on the operated limb; by the end of 8 weeks, your pet will be able to use the limb as well as it did at the time of presentation (day of surgery) or be 20% improved; by the end of 12 weeks, your pet will be about 70-80% improved; and when the pet is 6 months out from surgery, its function will plateau at 85-95% of normal.

    **Short walks at first 50-80 yards daily for first week. Then double the distance each week.
    **Swimming after 10 days. Deep water is best so that it is not weight bearing. Start at 1-2 minutes, and double every 3-4 days.


    Neither one of my dogs ever developed a bump like what you are refering to. What kind of stitched did he have? Sometime those disolvable stiches don't always disolve and maybe there is still some of that there? I think that it is a good idea to take him to the vet to get him checked out anyway. Please let us know what the vet says.
    Nemo was toe-touching after 7 days. We kept him very quiet for the first 8 weeks. At 4 weeks, we began PT 2-3 times a week at a professional PT place. They said he was very strong and had come along very well. After 7 visits, they gave us home exercises and said we need not spend the money on them, as he was progressing quite well. We were basically living in the basement with him for the first 10 weeks, as that level opens out onto the backyard (so no stairs). After that, my regular vet said he could start a few stairs if need be. He had gained about 7 lbs, so we switched to senior food and reduced his kibble amount. He has since lost 5 lbs. In essence, we followed most of what you described, but the last 3-4 weeks, he has been offleash probably too much for his own good. I hate to think our optimism destroyed our progress, but if it did, hopefully it is reparable. I will keep you infored about what the vet says. Thanks for the responses. I appreciate the info.

  10. #8
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    DefaultRe: "Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?

    i am rehabbing our 3rd dog to have this suirgery right now. with the other 2, it was diagnosed quickly & repaired quickly, they were back competing in Master level Hunt Tests in less than 6 months.
    with this dog,the oldest at 8, there was a long perod of time before diagnosis [perhaps 6 months or more] as she had an on-again, off-again presentation of symptoms.
    during this time, there were permananent arthritic changes throughout the joint. this has made rehab a lot longer & more complicated. she has been off Rimadyl, and back on it, 3 times since the surgery in late May. it seems like she gets ''2 steps forward, 2 steps back'',. i have just taken her to the surgeon, [again!] for a new evaluation. he tells me everything feels fine in there [and yes, there are a few odd lumps!]
    i found swimming ,which we started at 6 weeks [the directions said we could begin at 5 weeks] to be absolutely BAD, especially that anticipatory 'swirling' they do....even making her 'sit' as i threw her fav toy didn't help the stress she was putting on the knee plowing into the water off of even a gentle beach-loke area.
    from my experience, you are better off taking it XXX slow, and making small progresses each week. . IMO, from your description, this dog is getting waaay too excited & too much stress is being put on the knee. i have found my Gypsy gets the best exercise taking long walks off leash in an area such as an old sand-bank/gravel pit, whrere the footing is soft in many areas. this makes her use the leg in many different ways as she moves, rather than stressing it the same with each step. i am swimming her now [again] but limit it to very controlled leaving, and 10 short swims per day. [about 20 yards each, tops.]
    always bear in mind that inflammation can become a vicious cycle, a little tends to lead to a lot....
    and-- i feel your stress! i have been both elated and totally depressed [often within minutes of each other!] by how her progress has gone [or not].

  11. #9
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    DefaultRe: "Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?

    That sounds a lot like Nemo's condition. When he was first diagnosed about a year ago, it was supposedly a "partial tear", so, having gone onto the Yahoo Orthodg's forum, I became convinced I should try conservative management for 8-10 weeks, before scheduling surgery. Did that, keeping him absolutely shut down and off his leg for a couple months. After that, I added accupuncture treatments for a month. Then I went to a surgeon for a consultation, and he still wanted to try to rest him and use anti-inflammatories, rather than operate. I thought we had it licked, but it turned out none of that did the trick, and after his limp became more pronounced one week. We assumed he'd tore the ligament all the way then, and a vet and surgeon confirmed it. That was more than 9 or so months after his first visit. So he went under the knife much later than usual. The surgeon said there wasn't any noticeable arthritis in the joint when he went in. I fear there is now. ;-( Just made an appointment at the vet's for thursday. I am sure she'll just tell me to relax and give it more time, but I want her to check him out anyway. That bump just feels weird, and both my girlfriend and I swear it wasn't there right after the surgery. Argh...I just want my dog back!

  12. #10
    Labs4me is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: "Failed" cruciate ligament surgery?

    Interesting that you should mention accupunture. I have used a vet that does it and when I asked him about doing it on one of my girls with the cruciate he refused to do it until after surgery. He said that if he did it before it would take the pain away and the dog would be more likely to continue to injure the ligament. Doing it after ward you still need to keep the dog low key to prevent re-injury.
    Bonnie ~ Ellsworth Labradors
    Home to Ellsworth's Playing For Keeps CGC, U-CH SHR Ellsorth's Absolut Pleasure, Ellsworth's Good Luck Charm
    Gone but not forgotten: Franklin's Lucy of Ellsworth; Franklin's Rare Treat; U-CD Franklin's Rockin' Robin CDX, WC, CGC; Alpha-Omega's Mustang Salli CDX, CGC

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