What to Expect

What to Expect


DePuy Synthes Vet offers guidance for all stages of the TPLO surgery process

Preoperative Care


  • Subtle lameness to complete non-weight-bearing lameness
  • Can be acute or chronic
  • Sitting with hind legs out to the side
  • Clicking or popping of the knee


  • Orthopaedic examination to check for discomfort and instability on stifle manipulation
  • Cranial drawer test
  • Cranial tibial thrust tests
  • Radiographs (x-rays) of the knee
  • Range of motion
  • To better prepare for your pet's postoperative care, you may want to look into slings/pens based on surgeon suggestion.



Surgeon Visit

To help make the most of your visit with your surgeon, the following list of questions is
suggested. Print it here and use it to takes notes during your visit.

  • What implant is being used?
  • What is the implant made of?
  • Is it a DePuy Synthes Vet implant (plate and screws)?
  • What is the complication rate?
  • What are the common complications and the treatments?
  • What should I bring with me the day of surgery?
  • What is the follow up care at the hospital?
  • What is the expected outcome of the surgery?
  • What is the postoperative care?
  • What is the follow up care at home?
  • What medicines will my pet have to take?
  • What should I watch out for after surgery?
  • Are there purchases I can make now, to make my pet more comfortable after surgery?
  • How many TPLO cases have you done?

Day of Surgery

  • Dog should be fasted (no food evening before)
  • Anesthesia
  • Planning X-rays
  • Surgery
  • Postoperative X-rays
  • Recovery
  • Typically one night stay with pain medication


Postoperative Care

Your doctor may recommend some of the following after your dog’s surgery:

  • Antibiotics
  • Pain medicine
  • Restricted activity (no jumping, walking upstairs, etc.)
  • Rehabilitation
  • X-rays a few weeks after surgery
  • What to Expect After Surgery
  • Mild swelling
  • Minor bruising
  • Clear discharge
  • When to Call Your Doctor
  • Swelling that lasts more than a few days, and that increases rather than decreases
  • A large amount of discharge, or discharge that is discolored
  • Excessive discomfort

The following PDF can be used to keep track of the medicine your surgeon prescribes.

Outcome (Expected Results)  
Much improved to normal weight bearing is ultimately expected with TPLO surgery
Arthritis progression is slowed           

Cranial Drawer Sign: With complete ligament rupture, the tibia can move forward (with respect to the femur). With partial rupture, less movement is possible but a small amount of looseness is often detectable.
Cranial Tibial Thrust: While a dog is walking, the femur slides back, and the tibia moves forward, because of a sloped tibial plateau
Femur: Thigh bone
Patella: Knee cap
Stifle: Knee joint
Tibia: Shin bone   


1. Slocum B, Slocum TD: Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy for repair of cranial cruciate ligament
rupture in the canine. Vet Clin North Am: Small Anim Pract 23:777–795, 1993
2. Kowaleski, MP, Boudrieau, RJ, Beale, BS, et. al. Radiographic outcome and complications of tibial
plateau leveling osteotomy stabilized with an anatomically contoured locking plate. Veterinary
Surgery 42(7):847‐52, 2013
3. Moeller, EM, Allen, DA, et. al. Long‐term outcomes of thigh circumference, stifle range‐ofmotion,
and lameness after unilateral tibial pleateau levelling osteotomy. Vet Comp Orthop
Traumatol 1:37‐42, 2010.
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