Disease of the cranial cruciate ligament in dogs is perhaps one of the most common orthopedic issues we see. This painful and debilitating problem can really sideline a pet, especially one who is larger or particularly athletic.

Several surgical approaches exist that attempt to create stabilization and relieve pain in the diseased joint, but none are perfect. In the quest to get better at helping dogs suffering from cruciate disease, Poulsbo Animal Clinic’s own Dr. Craig Adams was trained to perform the CBLO knee surgery. This technique puts us one step closer to getting affected pets back on their feet again.

Cruciate Disease in Dogs

The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) in the dog’s knee (stifle) is analogous to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the human. Unlike in people who often damage this ligament acutely during an impact, dogs tend to suffer chronic changes in the knee joint. This likely has to do with several factors, including genetics and environmental influence.

When a dog ruptures or strains the CCL, it results in an acute and often severe lameness of one of the rear limbs. Because the CCL is vital in creating stability in the knee joint, the leg will not be able to withstand pressure. The instability can also lead to tearing of the meniscus, which further worsens the pain.

If cruciate disease is suspected or diagnosed, oftentimes surgery is necessary to recreate stability in the knee and keep the pet comfortable.

Why CBLO is Better than TPLO Knee Surgery

Several surgical techniques exist for treating a CCL injury in dogs. The most widely used is the TPLO, short for tibial plateau leveling osteotomy. In this procedure, a cut is made in the upper part of the tibia bone, then the bone fragment created with the cut is rotated and plated back together in such a way that a stable platform for the femur is made. This makes the absence of the CCL a non-issue.

While the TPLO is a very successfully used technique, it is not perfect. Constantly striving to do better for our pet patients, many surgeons have begun to search for something even better. Enter the CBLO knee surgery.

The CORA-based leveling osteotomy, or CBLO, is based on the principles of the TPLO. The TPLO, while decreasing the forces that the CCL normally counteracts, does not actually eliminate back and forth movement of the femur on the tibia. This can result in the breakdown of the joint cartilage in the knee, contributing to the progression of arthritis.

The CBLO knee surgery is based on adjusting the CORA, or center of rotational axis, so that the femur is in a weight-bearing position for the animal.

For many pets, a CBLO is superior to a TPLO. Advantages include:

  • No need to enter the joint while making the cut in the bone (osteotomy), which may avoid inadvertent damage to the cartilage
  • Less wear and tear on joint cartilage over time
  • Faster healing
  • Better stability for the patient
  • Ability to perform surgery before the closure of the growth plates, if needed

Patients undergoing a CBLO knee surgery typically have excellent short- and long-term results, especially when paired with physical rehabilitation and dietary changes.

Canine cruciate ligament disease is one of the most common orthopedic problems we see. We are thrilled to be able to offer the latest and best options to our patients who are affected by this condition.

Together with wonderful pet owners like yourself, we continue to be able to offer excellent outcomes for many of our patients with CCL disease. Please call us today for a free second-opinion consultation, should your pet be affected by this condition.