Extracapsular Repair

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Cranial Cruciate Ligament

There are several surgical options commonly used to treat patients with cranial cruciate ligament (CrCL) injury. For some patients extracapsular surgery is a good surgical option. We perform all commonly done repairs for torn cranial cruciate ligament. Our doctor will advise you regarding which type of surgical repair is best for your pet.

The extracapsular surgical procedure is performed on dogs to repair the cranial cruciate ligament (CrCL). Similar to an ACL in humans, this ligament supports the knee by preventing the femur from sliding against the tibia. This constant tension leaves the CrCL highly vulnerable to injury, resulting in one of the most common orthopedic injuries in dogs.

When the ligament is ruptured, the knee is almost completely destabilized, severely reducing mobility and leading to pain and inflammation. Dogs are unable to bear their full weight on the affected leg and will walk with a pronounced limp. If left untreated, this injury will lead to chronic pain, stiffness, limping, and arthritis in the joint.

Extracapsular Surgery

Although this procedure can be performed on any dog, it is most often recommended for smaller breeds and senior pets. In many patients however extracapsular is inadequate in its ability to stabilize the stifle joint with a torn CrCL. Our doctor will advise you regarding if extracapsular repair is a good choice for your pet.

The extra-capsular repair procedure uses a robust suture material to replace the cranial cruciate ligament. Over the next several months, scar tissue develops along the suture, reinforcing the repair and stabilizing the knee. While not the sturdiest repair method available, the surgery is usually effective for smaller and less active pets, is the least costly repair, and has the fewest complications compared to other CrCL repair procedures. Unlike TPLO and TTA surgery there is no bone incision (osteotomy) needed.


Extracapsular repair is a major surgical procedure that requires an initial recovery period of 6 weeks to allow for healing at the osteotomy site. Patients require exercise restriction during this period. After this initial period patients are able to have gradually increasing amounts of exercise based on how they are doing. Our veterinarian will advise you about the amount of exercise your pet can have at various stages of healing. Pain relief medications are prescribed following the procedure to manage discomfort. Pets must wear a collar to prevent licking the incision for the first two weeks following surgery.

Your pet’s comfort is very important to us. We will send home a full and detailed list of instructions for care after surgery. It is not complicated. We will go over all of these directions with you. Your pet will be able to get up and down and go outside to go the bathroom after surgery. Patients need to be on a leash when going outside after surgery however to make sure they do not try to run before surgery is healed. Regular veterinary postoperative checkups will monitor your pet’s recovery. The cost of your pet’s postoperative recheck examinations are included in the price of extracapsular surgery. We want you to call us if you have any questions after your pet’s surgery at Bethany Family Pet Clinic.