Gus is a 65kg Bull Mastiff who came to see us at Pascoe Vale Vet Hospital in April last year with a sore right back leg. At this time Gus was only 15 months old and would become lame after exercise. This tended to settle after a period of rest.
On examination we found Gus had problems with both his back legs, but was worse on his right hind leg. Specifically, Gus has a problem with his stifle or knee joints called cruciate disease. This is a degenerative condition seen in dogs where the joint becomes progressively unstable, painful, thickened and sore. It is a very common problem in dogs being the most common orthopaedic condition we manage. Unlike a footballer that damages his cruciate when he goes up for the mark, canine cruciate disease is a more deceptive condition where an abnormal ligament weakens over time under normal daily loads. It quite commonly affects both stifles in the one patient, as was the case with Gus.
As Gus was lame in the right hind leg, this was the first side we performed surgery on. We had a look in the joint with a small camera (referred to as an Arthroscopy) to check the cruciate ligament and the cartilages inside the joint. We then performed a Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy or TPLO, which changes the structure of the joint to eliminate the need for the cruciate ligament.
After about 8-10 weeks of healing, we had Gus walking well on his right hind leg. He was now however lame on his left hind leg. This was not unexpected, as we had identified symptoms of cruciate disease in his left stifle at the time of his initial surgery. In January this year we performed the same procedure on his left stifle and he is going well.
Gus' story is not uncommon we often see bilateral stifle disease in young large and giant breed dogs. Arthroscopy and TPLO provide very effective management of this condition and allows long-term improvement in hind leg function.
In such a loving and active dog like Gus who is always keen to socialise with all his two and four legged friends, being able to move around without lameness and pain was critical to him and his owners.