Cost of ACL surgery for dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

There are four options for treatment of a partial or complete tear in a dog's ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament. The cost of ACL surgery for dogs ranges from a few hundred dollars up to a few thousand dollars, depending upon the type of procedure chosen. Choices for repairing a torn ACL include conservative management, repair with conventional stabilisation surgery, repair with tibial plateau levelling osteotomy (TPLO) and repair with tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA).

Conservative Management

Conservative management is one possible treatment option for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in dogs. This strategy involves careful and thorough restriction from physical activity for a period of at least eight weeks in order to observe the dog's soundness and see if the injury is able to heal without surgery. This option is stressful for the dog and owner because it involves crate rest and severely restricted activity. However, there's no charge for rest, making it an attractive option for pet owners capable of restricting their dog's activity for a long time. If a dog can recover without surgery, he will show at least some improvement within eight weeks.

Conventional Surgery

The conventional surgery to repair a torn ACL in dogs involves stabilising the joint with fishing line or a commercial product designed for this purpose. The procedure involves drilling small holes in the dog's bones and inserting a stabilising agent that holds the joint firmly in place. Over time, scar tissue will form around the joint, stabilising it permanently. This surgery typically costs around £325, not including diagnostic procedures that may be necessary in order to diagnose a torn ACL.

TPLO Surgery

TPLO, or tibial plateau levelling osteotomy, is a surgical procedure that changes the angle of the tibial plateau by cutting the bones in the dog's leg with a special saw. The damaged ligament is removed and a metal plate is installed, allowing the joint to function fairly normally in most cases after healing. Serious side effects occur in some cases, including complete failure of the surgical procedure. However, many veterinary surgeons still consider TPLO the "gold standard" in treatment for a ruptured ACL. This procedure costs an average of £1,742 for average-sized dogs. Giant-breed dogs may incur additional costs for anaesthesia and time spent in surgery.

TTA Surgery

Tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) is a newer alternative to TPLO surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in dogs. This procedure is somewhat less invasive than tibial plateau levelling osteotomy. TTA still involves cutting into bones in a dog's leg, but in TTA surgery a non-weight bearing area of the bone is cut. The bone is then moved to change the relationship between the patellar tendon and the tibial plateau angle. The cost of TTA surgery is comparable to that of TPLO surgery, at about £1,742 for average-sized dogs.

Additional Costs

The cost to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament is not limited to the price of surgery. The injury must first be diagnosed, which may require X-rays and/or an ultrasound. After surgery, the dog will need pain medication, follow-up visits to the vet and at least two sets of X-rays to ensure that the joint is healing correctly. All told, the total cost of treating a dog's torn ACL with TPLO or TTA surgery is likely to be over £1,950. Total costs with conventional surgery are likely to come to £650 or more.

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