Orthopedic Surgery

Celebrating the Bond Between You and Your Pet

RileyThis is Riley! She’s an 11 year old hound Mix Dr. Smith adopted as a puppy. One day, while Dr. Smith was working as a veterinary assistant in southwest Virginia, a client called the hospital and asked how much it would cost to euthanize a puppy. The mobile home park where the client lived would no longer allow dogs.  Dr. Smith drove down that afternoon, picked her up and the rest, as they say, is history.

During the first two years of her life, Riley was a nightmare. Her usual routine involved eating everything in sight (walls, window sills, brick mortar, the deck, steel cables, etc.) and having diarrhea all over the house. She also loved to run off and would come back hours later. Fortunately, she has mellowed out and become (owner-proclaimed) the best dog ever.

Riley's Injury, Surgical Procedure and Before and After Video

Riley walking at the time of her injury. Some dogs will have toe touching lameness, others will hold up their leg and refuse to use it.


If there is one thing that Riley loves to do, it’s run. She’ll run in circles, run through fields, and chase groundhogs, geese and squirrels. Mid-October, Riley suddenly became lame on her left hindlimb. At first, her left knee only had swelling (effusion). Despite resting her and limiting running, her knee injury continued until she had completely torn her cranial cruciate ligament (CCL, similar to an ACL in people). When this injury occurs, the two long bones that make up the joint (the femur and tibia) are no longer firmly attached. This means each time she takes a step, the joint is unstable. This can be painful, may injury the meniscus (cartilage) and will slowly lead to arthritis.

While some smaller dogs can do well with medical management (rest, anti-inflammatory medications), most larger or active dogs will benefit tremendously from surgical correction. This returns active stability to the joint, reducing pain and the progression of long term arthritis.

If you do some basic research, you will find a number of procedures available. The classic surgery is called an extra-capsular repair. This involves passing a large needle and line through soft tissues and behind a small bone (fabella), then the line is secured to the tibia with a tunnel and crimp.  Other procedures to correct this problem include a TPLO and a TTA.  Your veterinarian will discuss the best option for your dog.

For Riley, we used a Securo’s bone anchor system. Instead of placing a nylon or braided line behind the fabella, a bone anchor is placed into the femur, which allows for rigid stabilization of the knee. This is a radiograph (x-ray) of her knee immediately following surgery.

Riley began using her leg the next day, and quickly was able to bear weight on it. View the video below to see how well she is doing just 7 days after surgery.


Over the next 3 months, we will slowly increase her activity with longer and longer walks. However, it is very important that we limit any running, jumping, playing, and off leash activities. These might cause the implant to fail, or she may injure her other knee.

Physical therapy also provides benefits for a quicker and more effective recovery. Read Dr. Smith’s article on some basic exercises you can perform at home to help stretch your dogs affected leg and build muscle strength.


“Riley” 12 weeks post surgery

We will provide monthly updates on Riley.  Feel free to contact us anytime with questions about our orthopedic  procedures.

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