This is Lucky, a delightful 7 year old Maltese cross who has had a very unlucky run of knee injuries. After a successful recovery from his left knee surgery in November 2012, Lucky returned for a check up in February as he was limping again. He was now sore in his right hind leg.
X-rays were performed and an injury to Lucky's cruciate ligament in his knee was diagnosed. This ligament has a vital role to stabilize the knee bones (the tibia and femur). When it is damaged, the bones slide against each other, stretching the joint capsule (which is painful), causing inflammation and damage to the surfaces of the bones, and potentially tearing joint structures.
Surgery was scheduled for the following week. A technique called the D’Angelis procedure is often used in dogs of Lucky’s size and activity. First his knee joint is inspected and the fragments of broken ligament are removed. In Lucky’s case he had avulsed (torn) the ligament from off the end of his femur (thigh bone). Once the damaged ligament had been removed, a visual inspection of the menisci is performed. These are cup shaped structures which support the end of the femur. They can be squeezed and torn when the knee becomes unstable. Lucky had sustained a large tear in the front of one meniscus. About half of the meniscus had to be removed due to damage.
After treating the joint, we replace the role of the ligament with a large artificial suture. This is placed around the outside of the joint. Excellent stability was achieved for Lucky.
Lucky has recovered very well from the anaesthetic and surgery and is now ready to start the slow return to activity. He needs a careful physiotherapy program for the next 6 weeks. This will build up his leg muscle strength gradually, taking care not to overexert the joint whilst it is recovering from a major surgical treatment. But we know that his diligent owner will take great care to ensure a successful outcome and we look forward to seeing him back at full strength.