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TPLO Surgery

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy

The TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery has become one of the most popular orthopedic surgeries performed on dogs that have torn their cranial cruciate ligament, also commonly referred to as the dog ACL.

Developed by Dr. Barclay Slocum, the TPLO surgery was first considered a radical procedure for addressing canine ACL injuries. Now in existence for over 20 years, the surgery has proven itself, time and time again, to be an extremely effective long term solution for addressing cruciate ligament injury in dogs. The philosophy behind the TPLO surgery is to completely change the dynamics of the dog’s knee so that the torn ligament becomes irrelevant to the stability of the knee itself.

Let’s quickly review the basics. When your dog stands, if you look from the side, you can see that your dog’s knee is bent, at a slight degree of flexion. Because of this bending, the ACL inside the knee joint is always load-bearing, meaning it always has tension on it. This constant tension on the dogs ACL, therefore makes this ligament the most susceptible to injury. In fact, injury to this ligament is hands-down the most common orthopedic injury in dogs.

When a dog tears its ACL, every time the dogs goes to stand or put weight on the leg, the femur slides and rubs on the back of the tibia. This rubbing causes pain and inflammation, which is very uncomfortable. This is why most dogs with a torn ACL will not even put any weight on the leg, or if they do, they will just toe touch the leg to the ground.

The true beauty of the surgery is that it completely alters the dynamics of the knee. Once the bone is cut and rotated the tibial plateau, where the femur and the tibia communicate, no longer can slide backwards. The knee is immediately stabilized. By doing so, this eliminates the need for the ACL ligament entirely and returns stability to the joint immediately. Once the knee is stabilized, the dog will begin to use the limb again. In fact in most cases the dogs are weight bearing within a few days after surgery if not the very next day.

Dr. Gillis has successfully completed over 100 TPLO’s and is very comfortable and competent in this surgical procedure.


TPLO Surgery is performed on dogs to stabilize the stifle joint after rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament. The cranial cruciate ligament prevents backward-forward movement in the knee joint. Tares in the ligament make the joint become unstable and the dog suffers from lack of mobility and lameness.

The tibial plateau leveling osteotomy involves making a curved cut in the top of the tibial bone. The tibial plateau is then rotated along the curved osteomotomy in order to level the slop. A plate and screws are used to hold the tibial plateau in place so the bone can heal in its new position.

The procedure also involves specific radiographic positioning prior to surgery for calculations to determine the degree of rotation required to level the tibial plateau.


TPLO stands for tibial plateau leveling osteotomy and is a surgical procedure that makes a change to the biomechanics of the knee to reduce pain and instability.1During surgery, a curved cut will be made near the top of the tibia (shin bone). The top of the bone is then rotated to reduce the slope on the top of the tibia (this is where the “leveling” comes from). A stainless steel bone plate is held to the tibia with bone screws to secure the tibia in position while the bone heals.​

Expected results

After recovery from the TPLO procedure, it is expected that your dog’s lameness will be significantly improved with a high potential for normal weight bearing in addition, arthritis progression is slowed. This success has been based on the return of full flexion of the stifle, muscle mass and limb function and the lack of joint inflammation. Thus, family pets are able to participate in normal daily activities without restriction or residual lameness.


The threads on the head of the locking screw mate with the threads in the plate hole to form a rigid, fixed-angle construct. Unlike traditional (nonlocking) fixation systems, the fixed-angle construct does not rely on friction between the plate and the bone to maintain its integrity. Less friction between the construct and the bone is intended to preserve blood supply and promote faster healing.


The plate is precontoured to the anatomy of the top of the tibia (shin bone) of the dog. This prevents any need to bend the plate, which could decrease operating time. The screws are angled away from the joint to ensure proper placement.

Implant-quality stainless steel

The plate is made from the same implant-quality stainless steel that is used for the production of human implants.

Manufactured with same quality as human implants

Modern manufacturing facilities and a dedicated work force contribute to the high quality reputation of Synthes implants. A well documented quality assurance program meets the Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines established by the implant regulatory agencies. The same controls for surface finish, dimensional tolerances, and overall workmanship for human implants are carefully controlled to provide the highest quality implants for veterinary applications.​​​​





Large Dog Pre and Post Operation

Small Dog Pre and Post Operation


Trooper Oswald Before

Tater Watson Before

Trooper Oswald After

Tater Watson After