Unlimited access >

Imaging of Soft Tissue in Dogs

Just left the emergency vet clinic (doggo is still there) after bath time zoomies led to a big yelp and non weight bearing on her hind left. First thought was “Oh crap she just tore the OTHER CCL”. Emergency vet says it’s not fully torn but “partially torn, maybe frayed, and certainly inflamed”. They are taking rads and giving her pain meds and light sedation (for the rads) now while we go home and make sure she can’t go up and down stairs, jump on the couch or the bed. Coming from soft tissue injuries in horses - why can’t we ultrasound the CCL? Vet says only way to know how much damage is to go in arthroscopicly (sp?) or a CT or MRI (which Google says will cost as much or more than surgery). Doggo is 10 in 2024 and I don’t want to put her through surgery if we don’t need to (god the first week after her last surgery were SO hard emotionally) but also don’t want to limit her play time/ chasing birds/ going on adventures with us forever OR keep her crated for months and if it’s a “it will fully tear at some point” I’d rather do surgery NOW than wait another year or two or however long. I have no idea where I’m going with this - maybe wondering if there are any other imaging options? Things I’m not considering?

1 Like

I wonder if it, in part, has to do with quality or strength (for lack of better word) of the ultrasound machines that most small animal vets/clinics have…
My old vet, who is a country vet that also deals with horse & cows, had one of the best, clearest ultrasound machines I’ve ever seen.
We used it to get a puppy count numerous times & it was always accurate.
Now whether that had to do solely with her machine or knowledge of using it as well, I’m not sure.

For some reason there are very few small animal vets qualified to do ultrasounds. When my dog had an obstruction that didn’t show on the X-ray, it was a nightmare trying to get her an ultrasound. Human medicine also doesn’t make much use of ultrasound for orthopedic imaging. Maybe because of the easy availability of CT and MRI. As someone sadly quite experienced with CCL s, my advice would be to have the surgery asap. If she’s the kind of dog that gets zoomies after her bath at ten, you will either have to severely restrict her life or she will eventually tear it. It is an awful week post surgery but hopefully the quality of life afterwards will be worth it. Hugs to you both!

1 Like

I wonder if the structures are just too small in a dog to really differentiate & visualize pathology on ultrasound?

I called the surgeon this morning. She partially tore her right leg just under two years ago (Jan 2021) and had tightrope surgery done on that one which has held up perfectly. She’s going in to our primary this afternoon for a second opinion (though as soon as we saw/ heard it happen we knew) and to talk about PT and water treadmill (and Adequan and Dasuquin). Thank GOD the surgeon is able to fit us in next Tuesday, so much sooner than expected.

Pupper is the best patient but so sad currently. Taking her meds well and getting Bemer treatments but just SO sad. She is toe touching today after her meds and Bemer which is good. I’m going to ask about CBD when we see our primary - I worry about keeping her on the Rimadyl for a while (a week until surgery + a few weeks after surgery for recovery), not so worried about the Gabapentin and I remember that made all the difference after her last surgery. Also trying to think of ways to make the drive back from surgery better for her (surgeon is 5hrs away).

@Simkie I always wondered if that was the issue but when I’ve asked the small vets why we can’t ultrasound the leg they look at me like I have three heads :sweat_smile: My equine vet wasn’t sure either since she doesn’t work with small animals.

I’m pretty sure my vet did ultrasound my dog (greyhound, so not small) and I think it was maybe for a stifle injury. She wheeled it in to the exam room. This is near a big city in an expensive area so I wouldn’t be surprised if the practice has more equipment than others.

1 Like

We are near/ in a major metro area with lots of practices (and we have used several depending on who is open/ available during emergencies) - no ultrasounds (at least for soft tissue).

Primary vet confirmed the tear this afternoon. He was excited to hear we are going to do Tightrope with Dr Cook (who apparently invented the Tightrope procedure?) and then set us up with the CCRP at the office for post surgery PT. They gave us a Trazadone/ Gabapentin tablet for anxiety/ light sedation while we are gone Thursday for the holiday. We can, and likely will, crate her but it’s been so long since she’s been crated I’m worried about her trying to get out and hurting herself more. Poor dog was so anxious at the vet (lots of whining and pacing and shedding) - hopefully our PT visits post surgery (with the water treadmill) will change her mind about visiting the vet. We also started Adequan. The vet suggested Librela, but after reading some UK based threads about negative side effects we are going to hold off on it for now.

MRI is probably the best modality for evaluating soft tissue structures in the canine stifle joint.
If the cost is an issue (understandable) and you’re willing to go for the repair surgery, would the surgeon be amenable for just going ahead without an MRI?

1 Like

Hugs for you and your pup!

The surgery is already scheduled, thankfully! Tuesday she goes in for Tighrope repair with Dr. Cook at Valley Vet Surgery. She is already feeling much better - a little too much - even with pulling her meds nearly completely off (she gets gaba at night). Not sure if it’s because we started the Adequan (she got dose 2 yesterday) or from Bemer sessions or just not as bad of a year as the first one. I’m hoping she will settle down some after the surgery. The surgeon wants to wait 8 weeks to start PT so we need to keep her super quite until then. We have “emergency” Trazadone/ Gaba if needed.

1 Like

Surgery went very well! She is home and recovering. Surgeon said this leg was a full tear and the other was only a partial so good thing we went ahead and took her in. She seemed to have a better go of it this time, which they said is to be expected since her non-injured leg (this time) has already been repaired and is better suited to take all of the extra wear and tear. We go back in 2 weeks for a check in and then more testing after that before we start PT.


Excellent news!