Three Wisconsin Locations to Serve You

WVRC Represents the Leading Edge of Research and Technology in Small Animal Surgery

Under the direction of Jeffrey Meinen, DVM, DACVS, our surgeons Connie Hurley, DVM, DACVS-SATravis Reed, DVM, MPH, DACVS-SA and Javier Gallegos, DVM offer experienced, specialized surgical care employing state-of-the-art surgical equipment to treat various soft tissue, orthopedic and neurological diseases, with an emphasis on canine hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate injuries. Assisting our surgery team is our anesthesia team who tailors each anesthetic protocol to the individual patient, ensuring their safety and comfort.



Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment procedure used for joint disease. This procedure uses a small, rigid, lighted optic tube (arthroscope), which is inserted into the joint through a small incision. Images of the inside of the joint are then viewed on a television monitor.

There are many advantages to arthroscopy-assisted surgeries including improved visualization of the joint structures, minimally invasive technique and shortened procedure times compared to conventional surgery. Our surgeons use arthroscopy in the diagnosis and treatment of numerous joint abnormalities.

MPL (Medial Patellar Luxation)

Medial Patellar Luxations (MPL) occur when the knee cap (patella) slips off to the side of the knee joint and slides out of its normal groove. The luxation can either be caused by trauma or congenital disorders. Most pets will typically carry the limb up for a few steps and may be seen shaking or extending the leg before regaining full use again. Surgical repair depends on the severity of the patellar luxation and your pet's symptoms. If the luxation is mild, medical management may be recommended. This injury is not an emergency, and most pets do well with rest and pain management until a consult appointment with a board-certified surgeon is scheduled.

CCL (Cranial Cruciate Ligament) Injuries

A cranial cruciate ligament rupture (CCL) is the most common orthopedic injury in dogs. It occurs when a ligament in the knee joint tears resulting in either partial or complete joint instability, pain, and lameness. Cruciate ligament ruptures can be acute (sudden onset caused by trauma) or chronic (degenerative changes in the ligament causing an unstable joint over time). CCL injuries can occur in cats, but are not as common as in dogs. Most pets experience symptoms such as lameness on and off or holding the leg up off the ground. In acute injuries, your pet may be 3-legged and painful initially; however, most pets start to feel better after a few days of rest and pain medication and are able to walk around on three legs. Recommended treatment of a CCL rupture is surgery, although small breeds (weighing less than 30 lbs) can sometimes do well with medical management.

Extracapsular Stabilization for CCL

Extracapuslar stabilization is another type of surgery performed to treat stifles with torn cruciate ligament injuries. This procedure is a more traditional type of surgery and has been practiced for years. It is recommended on smaller dogs which have too small of bones to be a candidate for TPLO surgery. During the surgery, the surgeon stabilizes the stifle joint by replacing the torn ligament with an artificial ligament made of heavy suture material. Recovery time is generally 3 months of strict rest, followed by 6-8 weeks of rehabilitation. This is surgery that can also be performed on large breed dogs in cases where TPLO surgery is not an option.

TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy)

A Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) is a revolutionary new technique that is performed by a surgeon for the repair of a torn cranial cruciate ligament in a dog’s knee.

Rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament is one of the most common orthopedic abnormalities that occur in dogs. Untreated, this condition can lead to severe, even crippling arthritis of the knee.  This procedure is highly recommended for dogs over 40 lbs. that could return to a high-activity or performance lifestyle and for young dogs that will depend on their repair to minimize arthritis throughout their lifetime.

FHO (Femoral Head Osteotomy)/FHNE (Femoral Head & Neck Excision)

A Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO), also called a Femoral Head and Neck Excision (FHNE), is considered a salvage procedure. This means that it usually is performed after osteoarthritis has become so severe in the dog’s hips, that it limits a dog’s activity or makes the dog constantly uncomfortable.

It is the presence of the osteoarthritis and bone-on-bone contact between the femoral head and acetabulum that results in pain. In this procedure, the head and neck of the femur are removed and the limb becomes reliant on muscles and fibrous scar tissue for support.

Patients undergoing an FHO/FHNE will never have the function of a normal hip joint and will always be somewhat limited in activity, but this procedure can greatly reduce pain, and often results in improved function compared to the arthritic joint.

OCD (Osteochondrosis Dessicans)

Osteochondrosis dessicans (OCD) is a condition of abnormal cartilage growth seen in rapidly growing dogs. Labrador retrievers, Rottweilers, German shepherds, and other large /giant breed dogs are most commonly affected. Most dogs are between 5-7 months of age when signs of lameness occur.

The most commonly affected joint is the shoulder followed by the elbow, ankle (hock), and knee (stifle). X-rays of the affected joint reveal a flattened area of the bone, which corresponds to the defect left by the dead cartilage.

Treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs alone is usually not successful and surgery is generally required. The goals of surgery are to remove any loose cartilage and encourage filling of the defect with new healthier tissue.

TPO (Triple Pelvic Osteotomy)

Triple Osteotomy of the Pelvis (TPO), is a surgery for treating hip dysplasia. The word osteotomy means to cut bone. The purpose of the surgery is to set the ball (femoral head) into the socket (acetabulum). This is done by cutting the bone in three places and rotating the pelvis so the acetabulum rests securely over the femoral head. Once the bone is cut, it is held in place with a stainless steel plate and screws or a combination of screws and wire. It is not necessary to remove the plates, screws, or wires.

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis occurs when the muscles that hold the airway open become paralyzed and collapse, causing difficulty breathing. This disease is most common in older, large breed dogs. Your pet may have symptoms for a long period of time such as coughing, change of bark, tiring easily, and sometimes collapse. Most pet’s symptoms will progressively worsen until surgery becomes necessary. To correctly diagnosis laryngeal paralysis, the surgeon must perform a laryngeal exam under sedation. This surgery can be very successful and provide your pet with relief and the ability to live a happy, active life.

Herniated Disc Repair

Discs in your pet’s spine can become weak with age or trauma. They can rupture, or herniate, causing a portion of the disc to protrude upward and place pressure on the spinal cord. This pressure creates symptoms such as weakness and/or dragging of the legs, pain, loss of control of urination, and a hunched/arched back. Small breed dogs, such as Dachshunds and Cocker Spaniels, are most commonly affected by disc disease. Typically, symptoms will develop suddenly if your pet has a traumatic occurrence, such as jumping off of a couch. Symptoms can progress to paralysis if not treated promptly. Medical management, such as strict rest and steroids, is usually started first before considering surgical treatment, depending on how severe your pet’s symptoms are. If your pet is not walking, treat it as an emergency, and take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.

If surgery is recommended, a myelogram or CT scan is performed to diagnose where the herniated disc is located. Pets are usually in hospital 1-2 days after surgery. Patience and time is required after surgery, as it may take 3 months before your pet starts to walk. A neurologic evaluation by a surgeon or neurologist before considering surgery will help determine how well your pet may do in the recovery period.


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