Evaluating PRP Treatment for Dogs: Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment (PRP) for Partial Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Tears—Would I Do It Again?

So it’s been over a year and a half since Cookies PRP treatment for her partial cruciate ligament tear(s).

Back then, we had a long, hard debate about what we should do. There was the TPLO surgery, which is the first thing most veterinarians recommend. While the traditional suture repair worked well for Jasmine, I didn’t believe it could withstand Cookie’s enthusiasm. TTA and TTO are not available around here. We were intrigued by the Simitri Stable in Stride (hinge technique) and would have considered it in spite of it being so new, but it was not available for Cookie’s size. Cookie was too young and too active to include conservative management in the decision process.

Evaluating PRP Treatment for Dogs: Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment (PRP) for Partial Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Tears—Would I Do It Again?

I have become a proponent of regenerative therapy.

Even back when I was researching options for Jasmine’s partial cruciate tears, I was looking into regenerative therapy. Stem cell treatment was a relatively new thing for dogs, but it resonated with me. I believe that helping the body to heal itself is always better than altering it.

Through Jasmine’s treatments, I have developed a relationship with Vet-Stem who pioneered veterinary regenerative therapy. Naturally, I contacted them this time as well.

The advantage if PRP treatment is that it costs less and it is a one-time procedure from collection to application. It doesn’t even require anesthesia; sedation is sufficient. The collection is a simple blood draw, rather than surgically fetching fat tissue, so it is less invasive.

Could it work for a damaged cruciate ligament, though?

My friend at Vet-Stem said there was a decent chance PRP would do the job in helping the ligament to regenerate.

What were the pros?

  • minimally invasive (blood draw and joint injection)
  • no anesthesia, just sedation
  • no alteration of anatomy
  • substantially lower risk of complications
  • substantially shorter recovery
  • surgery remained an option

What were the cons?

  • there was no guarantee it would have worked or lasted

Even if it didn’t work, it would still have reduced the inflammation and made the joints happier for the time being.

We decided to give it a try.

Cookie has been doing great.

She is happy, active, and nobody can see anything wrong with her legs. Naturally, the only way to actually “see” the ligament and how it healed would have been an MRI or arthroscopy. I don’t see much sense in putting Cookie through all that seeing there is nothing that would indicate her knees are giving a hard time.

There is no visible limping of favoring of the limb(s).

Granted, that’s not empirically exact data because up to 25% of favoring wouldn’t be even visible to plain sight. There are more objective indicators, though. For example, walking on the underwater treadmill, any favoring becomes more exaggerated.

Overall muscle mass on the hind legs as well as whether the circumference is even on both legs indicate whether the legs are being used the way they should be. As well as any shift of weight-bearing from the back end to the front would result in broadening of the shoulder area and diminishing muscle mass on the hind end overall. Cookie’s muscles are quite impressive. Strong, pliable, with excellent definition and equal on both legs.

There are not secondary aches and pains that could have resulted from compensation.

As far as anybody, including Cookie’s physical therapist and local veterinarian, can tell, she is doing a-okay.

She is a very happy, very active girl. She requires a minimum of three hours of activity outside daily and tolerates it well.

So when Dr. Rae of Fergus Veterinary Hospital, who did the treatment for Cookie, emailed me for the latest update and asked me whether I’m happy with the results and would do it again, I was excited to report that yes, I would.

I would absolutely do it again.

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