A fracture refers to a break or crack in a bone. There are several different types of fractures, and each type has different complications and methods of repair. Although we commonly think of fractures as involving a leg, it is also possible to fracture the skull, jaw, spine, ribs, pelvis and digits (toes) as well as the long bones and small bones of the front and back limbs. Fractures are usually caused by a traumatic event; however, pathologic fractures can occur from relatively low energy events when preexisting disease such as a tumor or a metabolic bone disease like rickets weakens the bone. Some breeds are also susceptible to particular fractures based on their anatomy, conformation and use (such as hunting or racing).
The ruptured cruciate ligament is the most common knee injury in dogs; in fact, chances are that any dog with sudden rear leg lameness has a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament rather than something else. The history usually involves a rear leg that is suddenly so sore that the dog can hardly bear weight on it. If left alone, the leg will appear to improve over the course of a week or two but the knee will be notably swollen and arthritis will set in quickly. One of the important functions of the cruciate ligament is to prevent forward and backward sliding of the femur on the tibia bone, also known as drawer motion. Rupture of this ligament leads to debilitating lameness. Without an intact cruciate ligament, the knee is unstable. Wear between the bones and meniscal cartilage becomes abnormal, and the joint begins to develop degenerative changes. Bone spurs called osteophytes develop, resulting in chronic pain and loss of joint motion.
TPLO surgery is complex and involves special training in this specific technique. Many radiographs are necessary to calculate the angle of the osteotomy (the cut in the tibia). The TPLO surgery compared to other techniques results in:
a more rapid recovery
better range of motion of the joint
development of less arthritis
return to athletic or working activity