Introduction to Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy

Veterinary surgeon Brian Daubs currently serves as the chief of surgery at the Animal Specialty & Emergency Hospital in Rockledge, Florida. In this position, he focuses on performing minimally invasive pet surgeries. Among other procedures, Brian Daubs frequently performs tibial plateau leveling osteotomies.

In simple language, a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) addresses rear-leg lameness from knee problems in dogs. The lameness arises from the dysfunction of a ligament in the stifle (or knee) joint known as the cranial cruciate ligament. Because of the severely angled bone structure of a dog’s rear leg, problems with this ligament in the knee joint occur frequently, either from a torn ligament or because the excessive strain and inflammation has begun to lead to osteoarthritis.

Veterinarians traditionally replaced the ligament with a synthetic material or with connective tissue transplanted from elsewhere in the same animal. However, the replacement was still subject to the same pathology. Consequently, Dr. Barclay Slocum invented the TPLO more than two decades ago as an alternative approach, which eliminates the problem with the ligament.

The TPLO procedure involves changing the angle of the femur and tibia bones where they meet at the knee joint (the tibial plateau). This removes the strain from the joint and thereby from the ligament as well. The resulting knee joint has an angle much more similar to a human knee and can better sustain pressures placed upon it.

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