History of TPLO

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) was first reported in 1993 by Dr. Barclay Slocum from Eugene, Oregon, USA.  Dr. Slocum’s father was a leading human orthopaedic surgeon who had an interest in knee surgery. Barclay launched this surgery to the world over 15 years ago and to his credit it has become the most commonly performed surgery for dogs. The procedure is reproducible, suitable for all sizes patients and the angular adjustment is tailored to each patient’s specific knee joint.

Sadly, Dr. Slocum passed away in 2000 and had to cancel his trip to Australia. Many Australian vets were registered to take his famous instructional course and learn from the inventor himself. Many alternative techniques have subsequently been developed in Australia to circumvent the need to attend the TPLO course in the US. In Europe and the United States, TPLO is themst popular stabilization technique for cruciate ligament reconstruction in dogs.

Dr. Chris Preston attended the last workshop given by Dr. Slocum in his home town of Eugene, Oregon in 1999. Chris was the first vet in Australia to offer this procedure. He has performed over 1000 procedures and feels that the success rate exceeds 95% in pet dogs. In 2005 he started routinely offering knee arthroscopy in combination with the TPLO procedure. This reduces knee pain and allows a smaller surgical approach to the tibial bone. At PESC we also offer postoperative physical rehabilitation with an underwater treadmill. No other veterinary hospital in Australia can offer knee arthroscopy, TPLO and hydrotherapy. This is currently the best anyone can do to optimize outcome if your dog has a cruciate ligament tear.  

No other veterinary hospital in Australia can offer knee arthroscopy, TPLO and hydrotherapy.

What is a TPLO ?

The cranial cruciate ligament is the primary structure that stabilizes the knee during motion. When the cruciate ligament tears, it no longer works and the tibia can move abnormally relative to the femur as shown here. ‘A’ is the completely torn cranial cruciate ligament. ‘B’ is the loose but normal caudal cruciate ligament.

The top of the shin-bone (tibia) has a natural slope relative to the long axis of the bone. In most dogs this slope is about 25 degrees. Much research has been conducted looking at the slopes and angles of dogs knees.

The torn ligament is permanently damaged and functionless. The ligament cannot be repaired and will not heal. It cannot be replaced by a graft like in human knee reconstructive surgery. We need to develop an alternative was of restoring function in dog knees.

A circular cut in the top of the tibia is made and the smaller bone segment rotated to reduce the slope to about 5 degrees. The torn cranial cruciate ligament is removed at the time of surgery. A special bone plate is used to hold the two bone segments rigidly together. The cut in the bone will heal over time back to normal strength. This takes 8 weeks. The forces within the knee change and now when the dog stands on the leg, the caudal cruciate ligament stabilises the knee. Click here for the PDF on the concept of TPLO.

A detailed PDF document (recommended for vets and pet owners familiar with medical images) is available that comprehensively details diagnosis, and treatments for cruciate ligament disease including gait, conformation, physical examination, x-rays, basic surgery, arthroscopy, meniscal tears, TPLO and total knee replacement. We can also mail a comprehensive DVD on cruciate ligament disease if you call us.

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