San Jose Shelter Teams Up to Fix Dog’s Busted Knee

The scruffy, out-of-control hairdo on this 10-pound female pooch was perhaps the first thing you would have noticed. The second thing you would likely have noticed is that she walked strangely. Her left hind leg didn’t do much. It mostly just dangled.

Veterinarians were alerted to her unusual gait and she was examined. Her leg was palpated and manipulated in various ways to evaluate whether there were broken bones, disrupted ligaments, pain, or nerve damage.

It was quickly determined that the issue was with her knee. Small dogs tend to have patellas (kneecaps) that luxate, known as MPL for Medial Patellar Luxation, which means that the patellas move out of their normal place and cause the dog to have an awkward and possibly uncomfortable gait. MPLs are graded on a scale of 1 to 4 with 4 being the most severe.

This dog’s leg was very strange. While the patella was indeed severely luxated – a grade 4 – there was also another component. Her leg felt very flaccid. Dr. Ostermann performed a drawer test on the dog and determined that she had ruptured one of her cruciate ligaments in her knee (analogous to an ACL tear in humans).

With such a severely affected leg, there was a question as to whether the leg would even be worth saving. To answer that question, the veterinarians at the San Jose Animal Care Center (SJACC) contacted specialty practice veterinarians at SAGE Centers and asked for their recommendation.

It was ultimately decided that removing the leg with the ruptured ligament would not be in the dog’s best interest since her right hind leg was compromised due to also having a luxating patella, albeit a lower grade that didn’t warrant surgery at this time. While the dog had been surviving just fine with the right knee, we didn’t want to risk putting additional strain on the already compromised right knee by amputating the left leg with the more severely affected knee.

To save her left leg and fix her left knee with the ruptured ligament, the San Jose Animal Care Center reached out to rescue organizations for help. Within no time a foster home was found. With a foster home secured, the shelter arranged for a boarded surgeon from the Sage Centers to come to SJACC in order to fix the dog’s knee.

The procedure to repair the luxating patella on the left hind leg went smoothly (which was the bigger concern of the two issues with that knee), and the dog spent the night at home with one of the shelters veterinarians to ensure a smooth recovery while on IV pain meds. While the cruciate ligament tear was not addressed with this surgery, the dog was expected to be able to regain function in the left leg regardless. There is a possibility that the torn ligament will need to be repaired in the future, but for now, the MPL was the priority!

Post-Op Medial Patellar Luxation Repair

Post-Op Medial Patellar Luxation Repair

Although the procedure cost the shelter thousands of dollars, it is a great example of how donation funds are used by the shelter to truly give animals the medical care they need rather than being euthanized. If you are interested in donating to the fund, please see the donation page for more information.

Posted on August 10, 2014, in Rescue Spotlight, Shelter Vet Tails and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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