Lateral Patella Luxation (LPL) in Dogs

Overview of Canine Lateral Patella Luxation

Lateral patella luxation (LPL) is a condition in which the patella, or knee-cap, no longer glides within its natural groove in the femur, the upper bone of the stifle or knee joint that can occur in dogs. It becomes displaced to the outside of the joint and can be partial or complete, intermittent or permanent. LPL can occur as a result of trauma, develop during the first year of an animal’s life in large and giant breeds of dogs or occur when they are more mature in small breeds.

Medial patella luxation (MPL) is more common in all breeds of dog than LPL. LPL is seen in large and giant breeds more frequently than small breeds of dog, such as Great Danes, St. Bernards and Irish wolfhounds. In the large and giant breeds, LPL is more common in both knees. Animals may show symptoms during the first year of life, particularly if the abnormality is severe, or any time later in their life if the problem is lower grade and leads to a more progressive, chronic lameness. Traumatic patella luxation can occur at any age and is usually secondary to being hit by a car.

Lameness can vary from an occasional hitch of the leg, like an intermittent skipping, to a persistent weight bearing lameness. Traumatic luxations are more likely to result in a non-weight bearing lameness.

Diagnosis of Lateral Patella Luxation in Dogs

Treatment of Lateral Patella Luxation in Dogs

Home Care and Prevention

Following surgery your dog may be sent home with the leg in a soft padded bandage. This should be kept clean and dry at all times and the toes at the bottom of the bandage checked twice daily for swelling and/or pain. For many large and giant breeds of dog, keeping a bandage in place following surgery can be difficult and therefore may not be deemed worthwhile.

Most animals will require exercise restriction for the first four to six weeks following surgery. The bandage and stitches are removed at 10 to 14 days. Passive flexion and extension of the knee can be helpful to reduce joint stiffness and this will be demonstrated by your veterinarian if appropriate.

Congenital LPL is commonly a bilateral problem, that is it affects both hind legs, though not necessarily to the same degree. When selecting a dog, ask the breeder about the history of patella problems in the bloodline.

Be on the lookout for your dog developing a knock-kneed stance that may be indicative of LPL during the growing months of life.

Since trauma can occasionally lead to development of LPL, your dog should remain on a leash when walking and have a properly fenced in yard at home.

In-depth Information on Lateral Patella Luxation in Dogs

There are many other causes of lameness referable to the knee joint. These diseases would be considered during the history taking and the physical examination. Some examples would include the following:

In-depth Information on Diagnosis

Following a general medical history your veterinarian will ask questions concerning the nature of your pet’s lameness. This will include:

In the case of a traumatic LPL, this questioning is not as important as the physical examination. Other body systems will take priority over lameness issues.

With congenital or developmental LPL, the lameness usually varies, is often worse when first getting up after lying down, may produce some skipping during exercise or low grade partial weight bearing lameness that is slowly becoming more noticeable and does not change much despite rest.

Other tests may include:

In-depth Information on Treatment

Follow-up care for Dogs with Lateral Patella Luxation

Prevention of Lateral Patella Luxation in Dogs