pet surgeons

Patella Surgery 

Your pet’s patella, or kneecap, is located in the distal femoral trochlear groove of their femur, or thigh bone. Usually, this groove helps stabilize the patella, but sometimes it can lack adequate depth. A lack of depth can lead to a condition known as patella luxation. 

Patellar luxation in pets, which is also referred to as dislocation, happens when the kneecap moves outside the femoral groove as the knee flexes. This displacement can either occur to the inside of the knee, which is known as medial patellar luxation (MPL), or to the outside of the knee, which is known as outside or lateral patellar luxation (LPL).

While patella instability and displacement can occur in any dog or cat, it’s more common in small breed dogs such as Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers and miniature poodles. This condition also tends to be more common in female dogs. 

If your pet exhibits signs of patella luxation, our team of veterinarians at Foothills Pet Healthcare Clinic can form a customized plan and deliver the surgical solutions your pet needs to experience pain-free mobility.

Which Pets Are Candidates for Patella Surgery? 

If your pet has patellar luxation, you may notice they have either a “knock-kneed” or “bow-legged” appearance. Other common signs include:

  • Popping noises coming from their knee
  • Instability in the kneecap
  • Recurrent lameness
  • Persistent lameness

Depending on how severe the patella luxation is, your veterinarian will assign it a grade ranging from one to four. Grade one means your pet’s patella is luxated but will go back to its proper position on its own. Grade four, on the other hand, means your pet’s patella is almost always out of its proper position, their patella can’t be put back in place with hand manipulations and they have severe lameness.

Usually, because pets don’t experience intense pain and lameness with grade one, surgery is not recommended. If your pet has a grade of two through four, they are likely a suitable candidate for veterinary patella surgery.

How Does Animal Patella Surgery Work? 

The goal of veterinary patella surgery is to ensure your pet’s patella stays in place at all times. Usually, three different surgical procedures are used to accomplish this: 

  1. Trochleoplasty: During this procedure, the shallow trochlear groove is deepened to make more room for the patella. 
  2. Tibial tuberosity transposition: If your pet has lateral luxation, the tibial tuberosity transposition procedure moves the tibial tuberosity to the inside area of the knee. Then, it’s held in place with pins.
  3. Lateral imbrication and medial release: Withlateral imbrication and medial release, the process can vary depending on whether your pet has medial or lateral patellar luxation. With medial patellar luxation, the surgeon will loosen up the tissues around the patella and then tighten the outside of the knee. With lateral patellar luxation, the surgeon will do the opposite. 

What Are the Expected Outcomes of Patellar Luxation Surgery for Dogs and Cats?

The expected outcome — especially for pets with lower-grade luxation — is excellent. Surgery can help fix a luxating patella without a high risk for complications. 

Usually, your pet will be healed and back to normal within eight to ten weeks. Following their surgery, though, it’s important to monitor the incision and keep your pet from playing roughly, running around and doing other high-impact activities. To help with the healing process, your veterinarian might also recommend physical therapy.

Schedule an Appointment for Luxating Patella Surgery for Your Dog or Cat Today

Foothills Pet Healthcare Clinic understands each patient’s situation is unique. We always take the time to do the necessary testing, labs and bloodwork to provide you with a personalized medical recommendation. 

To meet with one of our doctors and start creating a personalized plan, get in touch at 336-789-0009 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your appointment today.