Stifle arthroscopy has quickly grown in popularity in recent years and is now considered the “gold-standard” for exploration of the knee joint in dogs. This procedure is most commonly performed in dogs with cranial cruciate ligament disease and in conjunction with a stifle stabilizing procedure such as TPLO, TTA or Lateral Fabello-tibial suture. A major advantage of the use of arthroscopy in these dogs is the superior visualization of the intra-articular structures (medial and lateral menisci, and cranial and caudal cruciate ligaments) provided by the magnification of the arthroscope.

In our experience of performing both “open” exploration of stifle joints (arthrotomy) and arthroscopic exploration of the stifle joint, dogs that are operated arthroscopically begin weight bearing on the limb sooner, and due to the decreased pain and swelling associated with arthroscopy have an easier recovery.

Stifle/Knee Arthroscopy

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Arthroscopic view of a torn cranial cruciate ligament

Video 1 shows a 6 year old Labrador (“George”) who underwent arthroscopic exploration of the knee joint followed by a TPLO procedure. This video was taken the morning following surgery and he is already consistently touching the limb to the ground. This aids significantly in unloading other limbs with concurrent orthopedic disease e.g. hip arthritis or contralateral CCL disease, and early and improved use of the limb helps to maintain muscle mass and symmetry to build strength for the recovery.

Video 2 was the arthroscopic view of the inside of George’s knee joint and shows a normal/undamaged medial meniscus.

In contrast to this, Video 3 shows a torn meniscus, commonly referred to as a “bucket-handle” tear.

In this situation the torn portion of the meniscus must be removed (meniscectomy) and this can also be done arthroscopically. The first part of this complex and technically demanding procedure is shown in Video 4.