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Lateral Patella Luxation in Dogs

By: Dr. Nicholas Trout

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  • A soft-padded bandage is usually placed on the leg following surgery to offer comfort, reduce some of the normal postoperative swelling, and provide some support. This can be difficult in some long-legged giant breeds as they tend to telescope down the leg.

  • Because it is not possible to observe the surgical incision for any problems, it is imperative to check the toes on a daily basis for swelling, excessive heat or pain. If your pet is persistently trying to chew the bandage and is not behaving normally in any other respect, a bandage change might be helpful to evaluate the surgical site.

  • The bandage must stay clean and dry which means putting a plastic bag or trash can liner over the bandage every time your dog goes outside.

  • Some dogs just do not tolerate a bandage very well, despite the absence of complications at the surgical site. Elizabethan collars can be helpful in most instances, but in some cases the bandage should be removed if it becomes more trouble than it is worth.

  • Your pet should have the bandage and stitches removed at 10 to 14 days following surgery and be strictly rested for 4 to 6 weeks. This would require, in most cases, confinement to a single room, no going up or down stairs, avoiding slippery surfaces such as tile, hardwood floors or linoleum, and leash walk to go to the bathroom only.

  • Putting the knee through a passive range of motion, that is gentle flexion and extension of the knee, can be demonstrated by your veterinarian, and will often encourage earlier weight bearing.

  • The prognosis for dogs with LPL is not as good as for dogs with MPL. Having said this the overall prognosis is still good for return to function.

    Prevention In-depth

  • It is not possible to prevent developmental LPL; however, when selecting a dog, ask about the breed line and whether there is any history of knee related problems.

  • Certain breeds of large and giant dogs are more prone to LPL – reportedly those more likely to get hip dysplasia.

  • Good or excellent hip scores in the sire and dam will not guarantee normal knee development but certainly should be viewed more favorably.

  • At the first sign of lameness or gait abnormality, have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian. The position and tracking of the patella can be assessed. As discussed earlier, not all LPL's necessitate surgical intervention. The problem may just need to be monitored and evaluated periodically during your pet's development and subsequent veterinary check-ups. In cases of more severe LPL, the prognosis is improved with early detection and surgical correction, as this improves joint function and alignment while the animal is still developing.

  • In the unusual event that trauma was the underlying cause, leash restrictions on your dog together with adequate yard fencing can help prevent this sort of problem from occurring.

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