The tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) was one of the first modern surgical options to address cranial cruciate ligament tears in dogs.
The TTA neutralizes the abnormal forces in the joint that result from a CCL rupture differently. Even though it also involves cutting a bone, it uses the strength of the patellar tendon to stabilize the knee.
This technique underwent several evolutionary steps. Over time, surgeons fiddled with how they cut the bone, how they secure it, and how to best facilitate healing.
Which treatment is best for you dog, depends on your individual dog and the criteria include:
- activity level
- individual anatomy
- post-op care
- the amount of arthritis and other joint disease
Tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) is one of the surgical repairs that alter knee anatomy to achieve stabilization. Because it affects a non-weight-bearing part of the shin bone, it has some advantages, including earlier weight-bearing. As well as it is a relatively simpler procedure, which reduces some of the risks.
Below, you can compare the differences yourself.
In the TTA, the surgeon makes a cut in the front of the shinbone. An implant pushes it forward, taking the patellar tendon along with it. This alters the forces on the bones enough to prevents excessive forward thrust of the shinbone.
At the time of Jasmine’s torn CCL diagnosis, the TPLO and TTA were the only available options of their class. I leaned toward the TTA because it looked less invasive and intrusive. My main question, though, was what are the odds of the bone fracturing.
Comparing the incidence of complications following TTA and TPLO surgery
As it turns out, the TTA doesn’t seem to be any more vulnerable to complications than the TPLO. As with any such intervention, the likelyhood of serious complications increase with the size of the dog. When compared, TTA seems to come on top.
|Total incidence of major complications||19.8%||27.8%|
|Surgical site infections||15.4%||25.9%|
Infections are the most common complication. Appropriate post-op antibiotic therapy reduces that risk dramatically. As far as complications requiring surgical revision there was no difference between the techniques according to this study.
In general, the debate on which technique is better is ongoing and might boil down to individual preference. More options are emerging, including the Cora-based Leveling Osteotomy (CBLO) that offers improvements to the original TPLO. At this time, CBLO would be one of my primary preferences.
Further information: Cora-based Leveling Osteotomy: My Two Cents on CBLO Repair
Another take is that the two surgeries are comparable when things go well but dealing with complications is substantially easier with the TTA: TTA vs TPLO – Similar Until There Are Complications.
Why consider the Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)?
The primary criteria for deciding which surgery to choose should include:
- the individual dog
- availability of different options
- skill and experience of the surgeon
Some surgeons began to offer this option since 2004, but many stick strictly with the TPLO. Does that mean one is better than the other? Not necessarily. Some specialty hospitals recommend one on the other after they evaluate their canine patient. These days, you might find different specialists and clinics offer different combos of options.
One underappreciated advantage of the TTA over either TPLO or CBLO lies in the straight rather than a round cut. TTA shares this advantage with the Triple Tibial Osteotomy (TTO). Straight cut decreases the risk of overheating the bone which eliminates delay in healing.
TTA and TPLO outcome comparison
Judging by the ultimate outcome, both TTA and TPLO surgeries are comparable. However, with TTA the intervention affects a non-weigh-bearing part of the bone. As a result, it seems that dogs have a better response to the procedure and appear more comfortable using the leg post-op.
One distinct plus for the TTA might be the implant material. The tibial tuberosity advancement uses titanium implants that are stronger and have lower risk or infection and implant rejection.
Further information: Short-term comparison of TTA and TPLO in dogs with CCLt disease using kinetic analysis
Further information: TTA vs TPLO
TTA potential complications
Some post-op complications are possible with any surgery. Serious complications specific to the TTA include:
- post-operative patella luxation
- tibia fracture
- meniscal injury
- loosening implant
Implant failure and infections are less common because of the material used in this procedure.
Further information: TTA vs TPLO
The evolution of the TTA procedure
The modifications to the TTA technique focus primarily on the area that was my main concern. They aim to lower the risk of bone fracture and speed up the healing process. I describe the newest variants below.
Tibial Tuberosity Advancement 2 (TTA2)
TTA-2 sought to improve on the original TTA making it simpler and less invasive. The improvements include:
- only a partial cut to the bone
- using only a single implant
- smaller and fewer holes
- replacing screws by stabling
Further information: Tibial Tuberosity Advancement 2 (TTA2)
Tibial Tuberosity Advancement Rapid (TTA-R)
Compared to the standard TTA technique or TPLO, TTA-R is less invasive and quicker. If you take a look, you’ll see that this one uses a single titanium implant. The surgery takes less time, and it is less complicated—both of which decrease associated risks.
The implant consists of a plate and a cage with open mesh construction which promotes stability and healing—it allows the bone tissue grow through the sponge construction rapidly.
Are you wondering about the little round hole at the end of the cut? It is there to prevent unwanted splitting of the bone beyond the cut. Cool, isn’t it?
Very elegant and clever in my opinion. I like these improvements a lot.
This technique works successfully for dogs of any size.
Further information: Tibial Tuberosity Advancement – Rapid (TTA –R)
There have been other variations on the procedure out there. Your options likely depend on what each individual surgeons offer.
Naturally, any dramatic intervention in the body caries risks of complications. Some of the TTA modifications look smart and likely to improve outcomes. Such a small modification, as the round hole at the end of the cut, can make a substantial difference.
As always, before making a decision for the treatment of your dog’s cruciate ligament tear, do your homework. Research available technique, see which options are applicable in your area and make an informed decision.
Would I select the TTA repair for my dog’s CCL injury? If it was available, I would give the Tibial Tuberosity Advancement Rapid (TTA-R) strong consideration.
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