The patella, commonly called the kneecap, is usually found in a groove at the end of the femur and just above the knee. Luxating means that something is dislocated or out of place. Sometimes, dog orthopedic surgery is needed to correct the issue.

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What Is a Luxating Patella?

A luxating patella is a kneecap that will move out of its proper position. Most pet owners will notice this problem if their dog skips a step or runs on three legs. After this happens, the dog is suddenly back on all four legs, like nothing happened. If this seems familiar your dog may need medical assistance.

What Causes the Patellar Luxation?

The kneecap is beneath a ligament that is called the patellar ligament. It attaches the larger thigh muscles to a point on the center front portion of the tibia or shin bone. If the dog’s thigh muscles contract, the force created will be moved through the patellar ligament, which pulls on the dog’s shin bone. This results in a straightening or extension of the knee. The patella will slide up and down in the groove, which is the trochlear groove, to keep the patellar ligament in the proper position while moving.

When to Consider Surgery

Surgery is an effective way to correct a luxating patella. It is usually necessary if your dog experiences persistent or recurrent lameness or if other knee injuries occur along with the luxating patella.

A Grade I patellar luxation isn’t usually surgically treated; however, Grades II to IV are more severe. There are three steps for surgical repair which include:

  • The patellar ligament’s point of attachment to the shin bone will be moved to the proper location.
  • The groove present in the femur is increased so the patella remains in place.
  • The capsule around the joint is tightened.

Sometimes, an implant will be placed on the inside of the knee, which ensures the patella can’t move over it. With a proper pain management regimen, the recovery period for this surgery is usually brief.

Contact Us to Learn More

When it comes to dog orthopedic surgery, there are several factors to consider. At Wisconsin Veterinary Orthopedics in Holmen, WI, you can rely on us to deliver the treatment and services that your pet needs and ensure a full recovery. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call us today at (608) 526-2200.