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Remaining Leg Surgery on Tripawds Studies Report Good Results

If your amputee dog needs a TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy) or THR (Total Hip Replacement) surgery, try keep calm. Two remaining leg surgery Tripawd studies from 2020 report good long-term results with these procedures.

When your Tripawd needs an orthopedic leg surgery, it’s easy to worry.

amputee dog TPLO surgery recovery
Click to follow Bryce’s TPLO recovery journey.

You may wonder things like: Tripawds don’t have that spare leg anymore. How can a three-legged dog have surgery on a remaining leg? Can they get around on two? What does orthopedic leg surgery recovery on amputee dogs look like? 

Over the years, Tripawds members have shared their orthopedic leg surgery recovery experiences. And we even go t to ask “ER Vet” and orthopedic guru Dr. Brian Beale what he thought about an amputee dog’s chance at having a good recovery.

We get excellent results doing surgery on Tripawds,” says Dr. Beale. “We expect a very good outcome. . . We want to do a very good job with pain management to keep these patients as comfortable as possible so that they’ll be able to use their legs more quickly.” — Dr. Brian Beale, DVM, DACVS

The outlook is good for orthopedic leg surgeries on amputee dogs.

In 2019, orthopedic veterinarian Dr. Denis Marcelin-Little talked all About Remaining Leg Surgery Recovery for Three-Legged Dogs on Tripawd Talk Radio. Later, he shared vet Tips to Avoid a Remaining Leg Surgery for Tripawd Dogs!

In the absence of clear literature, we’ve got to just evaluate each dog. Why do they have difficulty with their mobility? What can we do differently during the recovery? Their challenges are going to put a total hip (replacement) at risk. These things can be managed but you have to be very mindful. — Dr. Denis Marcelin-Little, professor of Surgical and Radiological Sciences at the University of California at Davis

Good News from Two Studies on Remaining Leg Surgery for Amputee Dogs

If you’re the type of pet parent who finds comfort in scientific studies about health issues in dogs and cats, you’re in luck. Veterinarians are studying the orthopedic outcomes of amputee dogs more than ever before.

As early as 2018, the Postamputation Orthopedic Surgery in Canine Amputees Study showed that post-amputation surgeries resulted in high owner satisfaction rates. 

Postamputation Orthopedic Surgery in Canine Amputees Study
If you would like a copy of this study, let us know.
  • Perioperative outcome was acceptable in 15 of the 17 dogs. Two cases had major complications, including asseptic arthritis after TPLO surgery and uncontrolled long-term pain for several months afterward.
  • Despite the challenges some faced, all 12 survey respondents were satisfied with the postamputation orthopedic surgeries and outcome.
  • These Tripawd parents said they would recommend surgery to other owners of canine amputees with similar orthopedic diseases.

And last year, two 2020 studies on remaining leg surgeries for amputee dogs also had good news. When faced with a TPLO or THR surgery, Tripawds parents will see that the results are super hopeful!

Stance and weight distribution after tibial plateau leveling osteotomy in fore limb and hind limb amputee dogs

Tripawds remaining leg surgery studies
If you would like a copy of this study, let us know.

In this research, orthopedic vets wanted to learn how weight distribution after TPLO surgery compared among front and hind limb amputee dogs who had, and did not have, TPLO surgeries. 

  • Since a Tripawd’s weight distribution forces them to move so differently than dogs with all four legs, could a TPLO surgery create more problems later?
  • Could an orthopedic leg surgery on Tripawds alter their stance and gait (walk, trot, and run) pattern?
  • Does a TPLO affect front leg Tripawds and rear leg Tripawds differently?

Here’s what they found:

The position of the center of mass and posture of AmpTPLO and Amp does not differ. The weight distribution and posture of Amp is not impacted negatively by TPLO.

This fascinating study shows that when any Tripawd needs a remaining leg surgery, odds are good that their ability to get around will probably not be negatively impacted by TPLO. 

Another 2020 study showed more fascinating results of hind-limb amputee dogs who had a TPLO surgery.

Total hip replacement in dogs with contralateral pelvic limb amputation: A retrospective evaluation of 13 cases

Tripawds remaining leg surgery studies
If you want a copy of this study, let us know.

This study was “retrospective,” meaning that the researchers evaluated data from hind-limb amputee dogs who had a Total Hip Replacement (THR) procedure. They looked at 13 hind-limb amputee dogs to find out:

  • Why they needed amputation and THR surgery
  • What, if any, surgical complications occurred
  • How the THO hardware was positioned and if there were any complications
  • Parents filled out a mobility and lifestyle questionnaire
  • And the researchers also did a hands-on evaluation of the dogs

The conclusion? THR surgery on amputee dogs is overwhelmingly successful, with no major and only four minor, correctable complications.  

Total hip replacement should be considered in dogs with severe coxofemoral joint disease and contralateral pelvic limb amputation.

When You Get the Diagnosis, Tripawds is Here for You

If you just got the bomb dropped that your Tripawd needs a remaining leg surgery, fear not. Many Tripawds members have been there, done that. And everyone is here to help you get through the surgery and recovery. Please post in the Tripawds Hopping Around Discussion Forum Topic. You’ll soon learn that you are not alone, and you can do this!

RELATED: View all posts about remaining limb surgery for Tripawds.
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4 thoughts on “Remaining Leg Surgery on Tripawds Studies Report Good Results”

  1. My 10 year old Sheltie had a left front leg amputation in May 2021 due to a diagnosis of histiocytic sarcoma. He now has a partially torn CCL in his rear right leg. Has anyone gone through a TPLO with their tripawd? If so, was the outcome better for your dog or not? He has been through sooo much and want to make the right decision on this type of surgery?

  2. Interesting that this came up on my feed today. The memories of today’s date included videos of Murphy going up and down the staircase after he healed from his THR.

    • Well that’s wild but so appropriate Kathi! After all, it was you and Murphy who taught us that YES! It’s totally possible for a Tripawd to recover from a major leg surgery. THANK YOU for all the wisdom and experience you shared with us during his journey. We think of Murphy all the time and miss that sweet boy.


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