Cranial cruciate ligament rupture – recognising the signs and the best course of action

Cranial cruciate ligament rupture is the most common cause of hindlimb lameness in dogs, affecting upwards of 1.2%a figure which virtually trebles to 3.5% in dogs which are overweight.

Every case is different, recovery times vary significantly from dog to dog and the ability of an owner to identify the problem depends largely on the extent of the damage and how that is affecting their pet. It is also very often not straightforward for a vet to diagnose the condition.

The problem

The stifle contains two outside collateral ligaments and two inside cruciate ligaments with one of these, the cranial cruciate ligament situated nearest the front of the joint.

This ligament can tear or rupture as a result of inappropriate movements or exercise but the most common cause is a degenerative condition known as Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease.

The disease shows a prediliction for certain breeds but being female and also obese considerably increase the risk factors. Some estimates place our ability to diagnose cases at close to just 0.6%, leaving a lot of dogs walking around in pain – a figure which could equate to as many as six dogs per vet in a practice!

Spotting the signs

Signs of lameness and limping in the back leg or legs could signify a problem with the cranial cruciate ligament, but it may also be something else. The condition can come on quickly or become noticeable over a period of time.

The dog may show signs of favouring the leg and even be unable to put any weight on it, there may be signs of stiffness after resting or periods of exercise and the dog may have trouble getting up after lying down. But it’s also worth remembering that in other cases the problem may not be so noticeable.

The solution

Having discovered the cranial cruciate ligament rupture, surgery is generally the best option and provides the best outcome, but many vets are keen to avoid carrying out the surgery – something we are keen to change at MSM Vets.

Improving diagnosis and finding surgical solutions is a big deal for us. It creates confidence and reassurance for the owners who entrust their pets to our care and provides the help and expertise to the animals who depend on the professionalism and dedication that comes with the best service we can provide.

No one is born knowing how to fix these particular cases and it’s fair to say that the only thing agreed by the experts is that there is no perfect solution, but MSM Vets is here to do all we can to help by offering on-site mentoring for vets or surgical repair.


A Q&A with MSM Vets founders

MSM Vets is off to a flying start and we couldn’t be more delighted with the positive response we have had following our launch.

Our founders Rob Hamilton and Ryan Davis have more than 40 years’ combined experience in the veterinary field and we thought you would like to hear their thoughts on the industry and what makes MSM Vets special. Here’s what they had to say:

Q: How do you keep vets in practice?

A: The question has multiple answers but we can answer one of them – provide vets with the job satisfaction and skills to thrive.

Veterinary surgery is an amazing profession and we want to see practices loving it again. Our goal at MSM Vets is to close the continually widening gap between first opinion and referral surgery – something which can ultimately only benefit everyone involved, vets, pets and their owners.

It’s important to understand that you don’t need fancy instruments or diplomas to make a massive difference to your patients. You just need the right mindset, a great team and great communication.

Q: So what is MSM (Mobile Surgical Mentoring) Vets?

A: Whether you are returning to practice, starting out or just wanting to widen your repertoire, we offer bespoke mentorship programmes to cost-effectively increase the operating potential of your practice and save you time.

We come to you, operating in your theatre, and mentor you and your team through the procedures you wish to retain in-house. With time being at such a premium at present, working with less experienced team members takes a back seat. We aim to resolve that situation for you.

Q: Have you got an operating nurse performing procedures to help the vets?

A: Part of the service we provide is to train nurses to be active members of the surgical team, optimising efficiency and providing real career enrichment. Within a few visits, you will be performing these procedures solo, retaining turnover, clients and most importantly empowering your team along the way.

It’s all about getting the best from the resources you have and helping your team members make the most of their talents, which in return brings greater job satisfaction and fulfilment.

Q: What procedures do you perform, teach and mentor on?

A: Our offering includes laparoscopy, including the lap spay technique, endoscopy, endosurgery, ortho soft tissue surgery, nurse surgery, mentoring and surgical efficiency.

Our unique service of visiting a veterinary practice and operating within the premises while mentoring vets through the procedures are carefully designed to dovetail with the working day and commitments of the practice.

We are able to bring along any surgical equipment the practice may not have and being on-site means we are ideally placed to talk through the process before helping you through the procedure itself. It will mean fewer referrals, a greater self-reliance and will provide the opportunity to cut down or eliminate the need to call in mobile surgeons

We can help practices meet their orthopaedic and endosurgical needs and provide a level of training which is second to none – helping a practice attain a greater level of surgical efficiency along the way.