Post-operative care after any extra-capsular stabilization includes activity restriction, incision care, physical therapy, and specific medications.
Activity Restriction – The post-operative recovery period usually lasts for about 8 weeks. During this period, the patient needs to have their activity restricted as to not cause complications with the stabilization. Too much activity can lead to implant failure, meniscal injury, and pain. The DVSC usually recommends confinement (crate, kennel, enclosure, small room), leash walks only, no jumping, no playing, no climbing, and no running for the majority of the recovery period. As the patient recovers, the surgeon will implement a gradual return to normal activity.
Incision Care– It usually takes about 2-3 weeks for the incision and soft tissues to heal. During this time, it is important to monitor the incision for any excessive swelling, oozing, or incisional dehiscence (opening up). We also recommend an Ecollar (cone) placed around the dogs’ head in order to keep them from chewing or licking at the incision. Licking or chewing at the incision can lead to dehiscence and/or infection of the site, which can be a serious complication especially if infection reaches the implant.
In addition, cold and/or warm compress may be implemented to decrease incisional swelling.
Rehabilitation Therapy– All the surgeons atDVSC support some form of postoperative rehab therapy. Rehabilitation therapy can range from basic “bicycle” exercises to physical therapy with our Animal Rehabilitation group. Your surgeon will advise you on how much therapy to implement with your dog. Please visit (North Texas Animal Rehabilitation) for further information.
Medications – All our patients are dispensed pain medications after surgery. The necessity for pain medication is patient-dependent and can range from just a few days to the entire recovery period. In addition, antibiotics may also be prescribed. The surgeon will determine the necessary duration of pain medications or antibiotics.
Complications with extra-capsular stabilizations are uncommon, especially if the appropriate technique is chosen for the appropriate patient. Less than 10% of patients have complications as long as the post-operative instructions are followed closely. These complications can include infection, implant failure, meniscal injury, and/or persistent tibial thrust. Implant failure could include suture breakage, suture/anchor pull-out, and implant loosening. Most, if not all, complications can be addressed as long as they are discovered early. All clients will be informed on how to identify signs of possible complications.
There is usually a good, if not excellent, prognosis for dogs undergoing extra-capsular stabilizations. Veterinary studies have compared extra-capsular techniques but there is no consensus on superiority of one technique over another. The overall prognosis is patient-dependent and can be assessed by a surgeon at DVSC.
Author: Dr. Kim Tong