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Smitten by Boxers

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Torn ACL article

A very good article on dogs having torn ACL injuries and the options available.

PITTSBURGH -- We hear about blown ACL ligaments all the time in sports. It requires surgery and a long recovery time. But did you know there are five times more dogs going under the knife because of ACL tears than people?
Some veterinarians said it has reached epidemic proportions.
But what does man do when his best friend tears an ACL and how much will it cost you?

The cost could be anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars.

Pet owners in America are spending more than $1 billion a year on ACL surgeries for their dogs.

Mike Mannella said he spares no expense on his 9-year old lab, Kayla.
Four years ago, at Edgewood Country Club, Kayla slipped, snapped her leg and couldn't get up.

"The vet says blew out her ACL," said Mannella. "I mean, it's a dog. I'm not even sure where the dog's knee is." The surgery for repair cost Mannella about $2,200. "There's a lot of sticker shock, a lot of it," said Mannella. "I didn't think my knee costs that much."

Why was it so expensive?
Mannella drove Kayla to a Pittsburgh veterinary specialist.

Dr. Tony Pardo leads a team of board-certified surgeons who perform a revolutionary procedure called tibial plateau leveling osteotomy, where doctors cut the tibia bone and insert a metal plate that screws into the bone.
Dogs get a stable knee joint and return to full function.

"In my mind, it has made me much more comfortable telling a client that I have a very, very tight expectation of how your dog is going to do as apposed to before, 'Your dog may be OK,'" said Pardo. "Now I can tell them there is a very good chance that you can expect that."

Hannah, a 124-pound St. Bernard, is getting ready to have her left knee repaired.

Hannah is one of about 600 dogs who will have the TPLO surgery performed in Pardo's operating room this year.

But not all dog owners have the money or desire to spend up to $2,600 for the TPLO method.

"Sometimes you have to make a decision, financially too, and a lot of people just can't afford that much," said Dr. Donald Caslow of the East Suburban Animal Hospital.

Caslow has been a vet for 38 years. He's been repairing dog ACLs for more than half that time by taking out the ruptured ligament and replacing it with 80-pound fishing line.

Caslow drills small holes in the dog's bones. By suturing it tightly, the line firmly holds the bone in place at a fraction of the cost of the TPLO.
Chloe, a lab-shepherd mix, had the procedure done a week ago.
Owner Mike Morrow, of Penn Township, didn't like the idea of cutting his dog's bone or the cost of the TPLO.

"The patented procedure is something $2,300," he said. "This one was around $500. Certainly worth trying this way. It's less invasive. If there's more of a problem, we can try more extreme things."

Although Caslow is not board-certified, he said he's been doing three to four of the suture procedures every week for a couple of decades now.

While most board-certified surgeons will tell you TPLO offers better results, Caslow argues there are fewer problems with his less invasive, less expensive method.

"I don't feel like I'm compromising the patient by doing it this way with this procedure," he said.

It's important to note that Pardo doesn't think the dogs are being compromised when receiving the older procedure. But he does emphasize choosing the TPLO with board-certified orthopedic surgeons, their training and technology is a far superior choice.

  Christina Ghimenti
PawPrint Boxers


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Since Zammi is in week 7 of recuperation from his second TPLO Surgery, I will have to comment positively on the results of this procedure.
After consulting with my Vet and the Orthopedist, I decided on the TPLO in Zammi's case since I wanted to continue to compete with him.
The less invasive prodcedure could have been done, but with his hip dysplasia, both Vets felt the TPLO would be the better way to go for him.
I do know people who have use the simpler procedure with very good results.
I am of the opinion that it should be a case by case decision.
The recuperation time for the TPLO is a minimum of 12 weeks of restricted activity, i.e., no stairs, no off leash walking for any reason. It is a lot of work.
Zammi wiil begin hydro therapy after his next Ortho visit on the 20th if they feel all is well.


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Dusty Road's Walk'in on Air (Pilot) RN, CGC
U-CH/CH Naughty DeNevi at Red Rocks RN, CGC
Forever in my heart"
Red Rocks RIMPAC Warrior (Tanner) CD, RE, CGC
Tanner, Zammi, Pilot & Denee
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