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Carlisle Vets

Luxating Patella – “Slipped Knee”

Patella luxation is a common condition that can affect any breed of dog. The patella (or kneecap) jumps out of the groove at the bottom end of the femur (thigh bone) resulting in the cartilage becoming worn, leading to pain. The most common type of luxation we see is in smaller breeds who have a medial (to the inside) luxation.

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There are a few causes although most are inherited. A shallow trochlear groove (the groove the patella sits in) is a common cause and bowing of the leg can also lead to the condition. A sudden onset lameness where a luxating patella is present can also be the result of cruciate ligament rupture. Avoiding this is a good reason to correct a slipping knee.

A grade of 1 to 4 may be assigned to a patella luxation which correlates with the severity of the condition. If there are no signs of lameness, grades 1 and 2 can be monitored before making a decision to operate but if there is any persistent lameness all grades will benefit from surgical correction.

The procedure involves deepening the groove and, if needed, moving the site where the kneecap ligament attaches to the tibia (shin bone) across to align the “quadriceps mechanism” so that everything pulls in a straight line. Rarely, we see very severe cases where there is extreme bowing of the leg. These cases may be benefit from straightening of the femur and tibia and require a CT scan. They are very complicated surgeries and we would discuss referring them to a university.

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Following surgery patients usually stay with us for the first night so we can provide the best pain relief and monitor them properly. There will be an examination a few days after the surgery and then after a few weeks. The full recovery time is usually around 12 weeks and during this time exercise restrictions must be observed.

Exercise is limited to:

  • Week 1-2: 3 x 5 minutes exercise on a lead
  • Week 3-4: 3 x 10 minutes exercise on a lead
  • Week 5-6: 3 x 15 minutes exercise on a lead
  • Week 7-9: 3 x 20 minutes exercise on a lead
  • Week 10-12: a slow return to normal activity

We often take a final series of x-rays at around 8-10 weeks to ensure that the bone has healed as expected. From this point onwards a return to full, normal activity is encouraged.

The procedure costs in the region of £1500.00, including preoperative and immediate post-operative x-rays as well as the short-term medicines. X-rays at 8-10 weeks, if needed, are in the region of £200.

If you require any further information about this procedure, please contact the surgery, who will happy to put you in touch with Caroline or David.

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