Torn Cartilage

Inside the knee are two ‘C’ shaped discs of cartilage called menisci. These structures help absorb the forces across the joint and act to equally distribute load inside the knee. Although they have no nerve supply themselves, they are attached to the joint lining which is highly innervated. Dogs experience significant pain when they tear this structure as it becomes jammed between the ends of the two bones (femur and tibia) and is pulled away from its capsular attachment. Human patients describe a ‘locking’ sensation and sharp, localized pain.

It is important to understand that most meniscal tears in dogs knees involve the inner section with no blood supply. These tears do not heal and will not do well if left alone. Only the outer third has a blood supply. Once torn the best thing to do is removed the damaged portion surgically.

Typically the tears involve the inner (thinner) section of the cartilage – we call these bucket handle tears. In human medicine, an MRI can diagnose the torn meniscus. Unfortunately, dogs require anaesthesia and an MRI is costly so we typically recommend arthroscopic techniques which allow us to fix the problem at the same time. Arthroscopy allows clear visualization and the ability to perform the surgery through two small incisions. Dogs are able to walk home the day of surgery.

Failed DeAngelis Surgery

Positive sit test

Removal of torn cartilage

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