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Signs of TPLO Plate Rejection in Dogs

TPLO Plate Rejection in Dogs

If your dog recently underwent TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery, you may be wondering what are some possible signs of TPLO plate rejection in dogs. When a dog injures his knee ligament, it's important to recognize that the actual ligament is not repaired as it happens in people. Rather, the torn ligament is removed and the main purpose of the TPLO surgery is to stabilize the knee. The knee is therefore stabilized with the use of a plate and screws. As with any types of surgical hardware, there are always risks for rejection. Following is some information on signs of TPLO plate rejections in dogs.

dog tplo surgery

Foreign Item in Body

The Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy procedure to repair a dog's ruptured knee ligament was first developed in Eugene, Oregon in the early 1990s. Because this surgery was around for so long, it is believed to be the "gold standard" for treating ACL tears in dogs.

However, the surgery is not without its complications. The list of major complications that may arise include patella luxation, fracture of the tibia, infections, loosening of screws and rejection of the plate. 

Why is the plate rejected? Several things can go wrong with implants as they are always foreign items in the body. The implants may bend, break, or the screws may loosen. The dog's body can also reject the plate as it perceives it as a foreign object.

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Did you know? According to a study, 10 to 34 percent of dogs undergoing TPLO are reported to get a complication and about 2 to 4 percent require surgery to fix the complication.


Signs of Trouble

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What are some signs of trouble suggesting that the dog's body is rejecting the plate? There may be several. Veterinarian Dr. Scott would expect for the knee to become inflamed and quite sore around the plate. Affected dogs may therefore feel constant pain and irritation. Because of this inflammatory reaction, dogs therefore fail to heal as they should and seem to get worse rather than better. Generally these signs of trouble are seen shortly after the surgery.

In some cases, an infection may even set in. When a dog undergoes surgery, despite the strictest precautions, there are always risks for infection, considering that the skin and inner tissues are exposed to the environment. The risks for infections further heighten when implants are inserted in the body.

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While antibiotics are given to reduce the chances of an infection as a precautionary step, it must be considered that it can be challenging for antibiotics to reach an infection that's located around the implant, explains veterinarian Dr. Rebekah Kane.

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Cost of Removing the Plate

How much does it cost to remove the TPLO plate in dogs? Generally, the cost of removing the plate may vary from one place and another. Affected dogs will require general anesthesia and it would be important to have x-rays done before and after removal.

Generally, costs may range anywhere between $`1,000 and $1,600 between the the surgery, anesthesia and pre- and post-operative radiographs (x-rays).

Often, a course of antibiotics is needed before the plate is removed if there is an infection. This because if the surgeons would remove the implant and replace it with another, there are risks these implants would just get infected again, explains veterinarian Dr. Nick. 

In an ideal situation, where the bone is properly healed, there should not be any major complications in removing the plate. Consult with your vet for guidelines.


  • Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol 5/2012 Complications of tibial plateau levelling osteotomy in dogs
  • DVM360: Surgery STAT: Correcting cranial cruciate ligament-deficient stifles

Photo Credits:

  • Flickr, Creative Commons, by Debra Roby Follow, Katy healing on the deck, Katy a week after she had TPLO surgery. She tore her cruciate ligament. CCBY2.0

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