Canine Extracapsular Repair: Sandy’s Extracapsular Repair

Extracapsular repair is an old technique, but it can work, and it is the least invasive surgical technique to date.

It is not recommended for large dogs, but it can be done successfully. It is, however, more vulnerable during the post-op recovery.

Thank you, Luanne, for sharing Sandy’s story.

Canine Extracapsular Repair: Sandy's Extracapsular Repair

Sandy’s story

Sandy’s conservative management of her ACL injury had to be abandoned. While the brace was helping with Sandy’s knee, it was causing problems with her ankle. The decision has been made, and Sandy had her extracapsular surgery.

Despite Luanne’s worries, the surgery went well, and Sandy was recovering. Sadly, it turned out that Sandy’s meniscus suffered substantial damage and a large portion had to be removed. It didn’t seem apparent at the time of the injury, and it was possible that the meniscus got damaged since.

A joint that is not stable is also more vulnerable to arthritis. The possibility of further joint damage is something that you need to consider when making a decision about your treatment options. I know dogs that did well with conservative management, but this was not in Sandy’s cards.

The good news was that Sandy got the surgery and recovered well. Finally, she got her life back.

A note on the extracapsular repair

It is very likely that if your dog injured his ACL, you will be presented with TPLO (or TTA in some cases) as the only viable option, particularly for a large breed dog. If you do some online research, the information you’ll find will only confirm that.

I even talked to an owner who felt terrible for choosing extracapsular repair because all she could find were expert opinions preaching against it. A setback caused by an unfortunate slip on ice made her question her decision. Setbacks can happen with any surgery. The more you learn about your treatment options beforehand, the more confident you can be about your choice.

Extracapsular repair is an older type of ACL surgery, and it is now often presented as inferior. We opted for this type of surgery for our Jasmine because it is the least invasive and because we believed it has an excellent chance of succeeding. We are over a year post-surgery, and Jasmine’s legs have full function and are as good as new.

Jasmine got extracapsular repair

Our vet has been successfully using it for many years for both small and large breed dogs. Coincidentally I was also talking to another veterinarian who believes that once healed, there is no difference between the two.

Extracapsular repair TPLO comparison

Here are two example studies comparing the TPLO and extracapsular (lateral suture) repair:

Comparison of short- and long-term function and radiographic osteoarthrosis in dogs after postoperative physical rehabilitation and tibial plateau leveling osteotomy or lateral fabellar suture stabilization.

Effect of surgical technique on limb function after surgery for a rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament in dogs

So if the results are the same, why is TPLO often presented as the only suitable option?

There can be several reasons, one of them being that the residents at teaching hospitals have to perform a certain number of TPLO procedures to graduate. Then, after their graduation, the TPLO is the surgery they are most comfortable doing.

It seems that the TPLO might be more forgiving during the post-op. On the other hand, though, if there are TPLO postoperative complications, they can be much more serious.

Often it is simply a question of preference. Of course, you want your surgeon to be experienced and comfortable with the type of surgery he will perform on your dog. But you don’t want to limit your options.

Some more anecdotal reasons came up during our discussion, quite likely also true, but I am not going to go there.

Getting familiar with all your ACL injury treatment options will help you make the best choice for you and your dog.

This policy doesn’t apply only to ACL injuries, but to any health issues you and your dog might be facing. So always know and understand your options!

Related articles:
Talk to Me about CCL Injuries

Categories: CCL injuriesConditionsJoint issuesKnee issuesReal-life Stories

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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