New Treatment For ACL Tears in dogs

Alternative to Invasive Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament Repair

The rupture of the anterior ligament (ACL) in dogs is the most common orthopedic injury in dogs. When a dog ruptures their ACL , surgery of the knee to stabilize the knee joint is recommended by veterinarians. There are several stabilization techniques available including but not limited to TPLO, TTA, Tight Rope and Lateral Fabella Suture stabilization. These surgeries are not only invasive but are expensive, costing between $3500-$7500. A recent study done by the University of Kentucky took four groups of dogs all of who had torn their ACL. Each group of dogs either had dogs no repair, TPLO surgery, TTA surgery or lateral fabella surgery of the knee. All four groups of dogs were re-evaluated one-year post surgery to evaluate the amount of degenerative joint disease (DJD) or arthritis that had formed.   In all four groups, all patients had the same severity of DJD no matter which surgical procedure was performed as compared to the group who had no surgery at all. This study made me think about putting a dog through such an invasive, painful and sometime failed surgical procedure only for the dog to be burdened with a lifetime of arthritis and pain.

Stem cell therapy has become a major tool for me to manage and treat diseases once not possible. Stem cells are cells that are undifferentiated cells that can become cartilage, bone, meniscus, joint capsule, and nerve cells. The also send “messages “ to the body to help relieve inflammation repair damaged tissues as well as bring blood supply to areas in need of repair. The FDA in the United States has approved stem cells to treat arthritis in dogs, cats and horses. Stem cells are retrieved from the patient by collecting approximately 20 grams of fat by making an approximately 2 inch abdominal surgical incision. The total surgical time is approximately 15 minutes. After the fat is retrieved the patient is fully recovered from anesthesia. The fat is then processed in the stem cell laboratory at Roscoe Village Animal Hospital. The process takes 3 ½ hours to isolate the stem cells from the fat and activate them into functioning cells.

Four years ago, I decided to try a much less invasive approach to dogs with ACL tears. Instead of surgical incising the knee and stabilizing the joint, I retrieved fat from the patient, isolated the stem cells and injected these stem cells directly back into the knee of the patient. The procedure is very minimally invasive and all patients recovered form the surgery within 24 hours. To date, I have treated 24 canine patients with fully torn ACL ligaments.  All patient’s made full recovery and because stem cells were used, arthritis is highly unlikely to ever occur. The cost of stem cell treatment is significantly less than standard ACL surgery costing approximately $4500.00.

This new and exciting breakthrough will give dogs a much less invasive procedure and a procedure where arthritis is highly unlikely to ever become a problem. It also gives owners a much less expensive way to treat their dogs that tear the ACL ligament. For more information regarding stem cell therapy for ACL tears or other diseases, Please contact me at

Scott M. Rovner, D.V.M.



Roscoe Village Animal Hospital’s veterinarians serves the medical and dental needs of animals in Chicago’s Lakeview, Lincoln Park, North Center, Wicker Park, Uptown , West Loop, Logan Square and Bucktown neighborhoods.