Pet Advice

Jim – A Torn Knee Ligament

Jim – A Torn Knee Ligament

Name: Jim
Age: 9yrs old
Weight: 36kg
Breed: Bull Mastiff X
Sex: Male, desexed

History: Jim limped through Wilston Vet’s door in July this year. His owners had noticed that he had been intermittently lame on his right hind leg for a little while. A partial tear of his cruciate ligament was suspected by another vet in February after x-rays of the right knee showed inflammation and evidence of degenerative joint disease. A couple of days prior to coming to Wilston Vet, Jim had twisted his right leg and was now much more painful. Jim’s left knee had been operated on for a cruciate tear using a de-angelis procedure 7yrs ago. Jim had been doing so well since then so his owners were wondering if Jim’s right knee was also a candidate for the same surgical repair.


Examination: Dr Meredith examined the knee and suspected that Jim had now completely torn the ligament. The knee joint felt generally thickened and Jim had some wasting of his quadriceps muscles (common signs of cruciate disease). The knee was unstable and this could be demonstrated with a special test called a ‘cranial drawer’ test. He was placing small amounts of weight on the leg but was mostly just touching his toe gingerly on the ground.

Treatment: On physical examination, Dr Meredith noted that Jim had a moderately loud heart murmur. She was concerned that the murmur may increase Jim’s anaesthetic risk so she recommended that an ultrasound of Jim’s heart should be performed by a specialist cardiologist (Dr Brad Gavaghan) prior to his cruciate repair surgery. The ultrasound (echocardiogram) allows the cardiologist to visualise inside of the heart to determine what is causing the murmur (e.g. a heart valve problem) and whether the heart murmur may lead to heart disease or increase an animal’s anaesthetic risk. Dr Gavaghan diagnosed mild degeneration of one of Jim’s heart valves (the mitral valve) but he did not expect the valve lesions to affect his anaesthetic.

Lyn Minhinnet, a very experienced surgeon who taught surgery for many years at the University of Queensland, visited Wilston Vet to perform Jim’s surgery. Lyn confirmed that Jim’s cruciate ligament was completely ruptured and he had also torn the meniscus (a meniscus is a small piece of tissue that acts like a shock absorber in the knee) which was repaired also during the surgery.

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Jim’s anaesthesia and surgery went very smoothly. Once he was stable and comfortable to go home he was discharged with instructions for strict rest for 3 weeks.

After 3 weeks Jim’s owners could start to take him for short walks on a lead and increase these walks by 5-10minutes in length each week from 5 weeks after the surgery. Lyn had also recommended that Jim start taking glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate supplements for life to help protect his cartilage. Anti-inflammatories have helped manage any post-operative pain and also any pain associated with arthritis.

Jim has made an excellent recovery. He generally has little to no pain with his leg and is walking around well. The surgery was a success! We now enjoy seeing Jim walk through our front door limp-free.


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