The cruciate ligament is a structure, comprised of a band of resistant tissue, holding together the femur (the bone found in the back leg, from the hip to the stifle/knee) and the tibia (the large bone from the knee to the paw).
This ligament is not very flexible. The cruciate ligament prevents the tibia from slipping forward when the dog bears weight on the leg. Some dogs will rupture this ligament during fast turns, but others suffer cruciate ruptures without history of trauma or accident.
After a cruciate rupture, a dog has pain and does not put weight on the affected leg. Often the dog jus comes in from the yard holding a leg up and people may not be able to find a painful spot unless one presses on the stifle. After a day or two the dog starts placing weight but limps and places the foot a little bit further back than on the other side. A light dog may feel better within the week, but at any time may start limping again. Eventually the stifle joint develops arthritis and becomes permanently painful.
Cruciate ligament rupture is diagnosed by means of examination and through radiographs revealing the slipping of the tibia.
We repair ruptured cruciates with an internal stabilization method of the stifle joint, where we place an artificial material between femur and tibia to avoid the slipping. Within a week after surgery most dogs will start putting weight on the leg again, and shortly after they return to a normal life of running and playing.