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Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament in Dogs

By: Dr. Nicholas Trout

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Sudden onset hind leg lameness following cruciate ligament injury can be so severe as to produce lameness as profound as a long bone fracture. Unlike a fracture, swelling and pain are restricted to the stifle (knee) joint.

Other Causes of Hind Limb Lameness

  • Medial patella luxation or a dislocated knee cap can produce bouts of sudden onset lameness or a more insidious lower grade problem. Differentiation between these diseases is made during the physical examination, although the two can occur at the same time.

  • Any traumatic injury to the hind limb can produce a lameness similar to an acute cruciate rupture, such as a dislocated hip, deranged or dislocated stifle or Achilles tendon rupture. These disorders are usually traumatic in origin, sudden in onset and easily differentiated from a torn cranial cruciate ligament.

  • Meniscal injury occurs in approximately 50 percent of completely torn cranial cruciate ligaments. It is therefore part and parcel of the cruciate problem and is not seen as a separate entity in its own right.

  • Caudal cruciate ligament rupture is extremely uncommon and the result of severe direct trauma to the front of the tibia. Abnormal motion of the knee can be found on palpation; in this instance, what is described as a "caudal drawer" is obtained.

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