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Tightrope Cruciate Ligament System at Alpine Animal Doctors

This minimally invasive surgical procedure promises to give dogs suffering from Cruciate Ligament injuries better outcomes with less trauma than other surgical treatments, and at lower cost.

The Arthrex Tightrope CCL repair system is now available at Alpine Animal Doctors. This minimally invasive surgical procedure promises to give dogs suffering from Cruciate Ligament injuries better outcomes with less trauma than other surgical treatments, and at lower cost to the owner.

Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) ruptures are the most common cause of hind limb lameness in dogs. Dogs of any breed, sex or age can suffer a CCL injury. It’s a painful, acute or chronic degenerative injury, usually of the anterior cruciate ligament, that results in partial or complete instability of the knee joint. The cause can be trauma related but, more often, cruciate ligament rupture is a gradual process resulting from chronic inflammation in the knee joint.

Fixing a CCL rupture generally requires surgery, often a long and arduous procedure for both patient and veterinary surgeon. The use of the Tightrope Cruciate Ligament Repair System reduces the time your pet spends on the operating table, eliminates the need for cutting of bone, reducing the risk of infection, and does not require the insertion of steel plates.

Instead, the Tightrope system uses a very strong synthetic ligament anchored directly to the bones on either side of the joint. Small holes are drilled in the femur and tibia to allow this synthetic biomaterial — which closely mimics the properties of a natural ligament — to be passed through a small incision to provide bone-to-bone stabilisation during healing.

The Kevlar-like synthetic material used has properties which make it stronger and less prone to failure than any other suture materials being used for CCL reconstructions. It is used extensively in human joint surgery, including the repair of ACL sports injuries.

At present, few vets in Australia are conversant with the Tightrope procedure. Dr. Bek has been fully trained and, following tests, is now offering the Tightrope system to clients. The results so far have been very promising.

“In one dog, who was moderately-severely lame prior to surgery, we carried out the Tightrope procedure on a Friday”, said Dr. Bek.

“On Monday when the patient came back in for bandage removal he was using the leg when leaving the clinic. By the following Tuesday, little more than a week after surgery, when the patient returned for suture removal he was walking and trotting with no sign of a limp.

“Although it’s early days, that’s a pretty amazing recovery compared to plating and other CCL surgical techniques.

“Although all surgery is something of an ordeal for the patient, the Tightrope system is gentler, and far less stressful for both patient and owners”, Dr. Bek said.

Importantly, because the operation can be done so much quicker than other surgical plating techniques, the cost of the Tightrope procedure is less than older methods of surgery.

The Tightrope CCL Repair System holds great promise for the repair of these common CCL injuries. The procedure allows treatment of larger dogs, who would normally require an osteotomy, but with reduced risk of side effects. It’s easier and faster, with a reduced risk of both infection and/or catastrophic failure. The Tightrope system is also more easily reversed in the event of complications.

It can also be used in dogs of all sizes and both recovery rates and long term benefits appear to be comparable with other, more invasive, procedures. For a more detailed explanation of the Arthrex Tightrope CCL repair system and how it compares with other surgical techniques, check out our article on Cruciate Ligament Rupture, or take a look at this YouTube video.