Today I want to talk about surgery vs. bracing, and why we suggest bracing first.
First off, not every patient is a good surgical candidate. Be it weight, age, anesthetic risk, liver enzymes, poor health, or maybe the owners don’t have the $10k saved that it will take to fix not only the first knee, but the second knee that will go eventually once surgery is done.
Second, surgery has a lot of risk! Screws coming out, plate failure, angle was done incorrectly, bone fractures are very common, especially with large breeds doing TTA surgery, and infection is also very common. I have had several patients come to me that have been fighting infections for almost a year, such as mrsa, due to the surgical site not being sterile! Unfortunately, some have the leg amputated due to complications. Also, if the angle is done improperly, they will start to weaken the ankle and hip joints, as things are not in alignment any longer, and start breaking down. Complications are common, and unfortunately some cause irreversible damage. I have even seen some patients have surgery done on the wrong leg, and yes that actually happened!
Also, 1 in 4 dogs that have surgery have lifelong lameness! With bracing, we don’t have any complications, or risk. Our patients are able to place full weight on their affected leg within just a few hours of receiving the brace. They can go for walks right away, which we will encourage. We also do physical therapy from your home, to help build the leg up and muscles, as well as Passive Range of Motion to help build strong tissue. We also go over diet and supplements, to give you the best outcome.
Just remember, you can’t undo surgery complications, but with conservative management there is always more we can do. Surgery should be a last resort.