Risk for Contralateral Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture in Older Dogs

Brenda Salinardi, DVM, MS, DACVS, CCRT, Tufts Veterinary Emergency Treatment & Specialties, Walpole, Massachusetts

Jane Swanton, DVM, Tufts Veterinary Emergency Treatment & Specialties, Walpole, Massachusetts

ArticleLast Updated January 20242 min read
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In the Literature

Murphy CL, Niles J, Radasch RM. The prevalence and risk factors of contralateral cranial cruciate ligament rupture in medium-to-large (≥15kg) breed dogs 8 years of age or older. Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol. 2024;37(1):8-12. doi:10.1055/s-0043-1771350

The Research …

Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture is the most common cause of lameness in dogs, and CCL repair surgery is the most commonly performed orthopedic procedure.1,2 The incidence and economic impact of unilateral and bilateral canine CCL rupture have increased over time.1-3

Previous studies that included a wide range of breeds, weights, and ages have shown a contralateral CCL rupture rate of ≈33%.2-4 The most-referenced study of contralateral CCL rupture in dogs found ≈50% of Labrador retrievers (median age, 4.8 years; median weight, 81.6 lb [37 kg]) ruptured the contralateral CCL within 6 months.5

In the current study, a review of medical records of 831 dogs ≥8 years of age and ≥33.1 lb (15 kg) indicated a contralateral CCL rupture prevalence rate of 19.1%, with odds of rupture decreasing by 2% for each additional month of age. There was a 42% reduction in the likelihood of contralateral CCL rupture in Labrador retriever crossbreeds compared with non-Labrador retriever breeds.

… The Takeaways

Key pearls to put into practice:

  • Although surgical repair of canine CCL rupture is generally successful, decision-making is often difficult for pet owners due to postoperative care, potential complications, and cost. Risk for tearing the contralateral CCL may also affect the decision.

  • Age, breed, and intact status may be protective factors for contralateral CCL rupture in dogs and should be considered in addition to patient size when discussing risks with owners.

  • The finding that ≈50% of dogs with CCL rupture experienced contralateral CCL rupture within 6 months should not be the sole consideration, especially during consultations for older, medium- to large-breed dogs, as the risk is lower in these patients.