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.

22 Responses to New Treatment For ACL Tears in dogs

  1. I have taken my one dog to Buffalo Grove, IL Vet Specialty Center for two tplo surgeries.
    Now after 8 weeks of being done with one dog, my other dog started a very slight limp but isn’t really lame and still sitting square. They are both Mountain Cur Mixes, 2 1/2 years old and between 73 and 84 pound.
    She had X-rays done and the Vet really did’t see much of a change in her knee.
    She is on medication and supplements and I was advise to restrict her activity for about 4-6 weeks. She is a very active hyper dog who runs hard in an 1.5 acre lot. I’m really not wanting to do another TPLO and looking at other options and came across this article. For the time a dog receives these injections how long until they are back to normal activity? I also heard of another treatment called PRP?

    I’m concerned about after rehabbing her she tears it anyways. This is a question I have asked my Vet and I’m not getting an answer. From what I read a partial tear will eventually become a complete tear. How can my dog get back to running around like crazy again? Is surgery the only option?

    • Nicolle,

      I have now done 54 stem cell procedures without failure. It typically takes 6-10 weeks for full recovery. Surgical pain recovery is one day! PRP would be a good start if there is not a full tear as it is non surgical and involves no anesthesia. I would be happy to evaluate your dog and propose the best option for the situation. Please call my hospital for an appointment 773-549-3131. If my schedule is full and you would like to be seen sooner, Please email me at
      Thank you,
      Scott M Rovner

  2. Do you think this would help a dog who already had tightrope repair 18 mos ago but still turning out knee and not putting full weight on leg unless going up stairs etc..

    • Kathleen,

      If there is no other issues ( i.e. infection) I do believe that either stem cell or platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatment would be very effective. May I ask who did the surgery?

  3. I am in new jersey but would gladly drive him to Chicago for the procedure for improved chance of recovery and returning to his healthy active lifestyle. He is a 59 lb hound/ Shepard mix. How long would we need to stay there for the exam/ treatment recovery?

  4. My baby girl is 6 year old 84# Akita/Golden with a full rupture to left CCL. Would the stem cell be a possibility for her or is it only for small dogs? I live in Indiana and I had consult today for surgery but I think this sounds like a better option and less invasive. I’m struggling with cutting the bone and repositioning with a plate.

    • This groundbreaking procedure was developed by me. I would be happy to consult with a veterinarian in Georgia who uses Medivetbiologics Stem Cell Labs. Please visit Medivet Biologic Website for a veterinarian near you and I would be happy to email my protocol.


      Scott M Rovner

  5. Would this treatment be advisable for a full tear of ACL and possible meniscus? Our vet recommended a wait-and-see approach on surgery, and our dog has injured ACL and meniscus on right, possible partial tear on left, and continues re-injuring the right leg…

  6. I have a 3yr old Amstaff/Boxer mix who had a lateral suture procedure and has reinjuried his knee. If we do the TPLO surgery, could stem cell be part of a supportive treatment afterward?

  7. Hello Doctor,
    I may well have to fly to Chicago to meet with you for my dog’s treatment despite your assurance that any MediVet could apply your protocol.

    I’ve now approached 6 practitioners, including two specialists on the Medivet Board, all of whom have insisted on 3 reasons why it would be useless to pursue stem cell therapy before traditional surgery:

    1) the acl is fully torn ( there is nothing around which scar tissue can form to stabilize the knee
    2) The dog is large (120 lbs– perhaps if the dog were small there would be a chance to stabilize the knee)
    3) My dog has a damaged meniscus, making braces or anything other than surgery, ineffective.

    Only you and one other doctor in NC claim to successfully treat dogs with all 3 of the above conditions. When I cite your online page claiming that you’ve treated large dogs with only 1 needing traditional surgery, I’m told I must be mistaken or that such claims are dubious.
    One doctor has agreed to do the treatment, but insisted that only some improvement of arthritis-no stabilization of the knee–could be expected.

    How is it that you are able to get scar tissue to form with no cruciate ligament left in tact?
    Have you had patients come from hundreds of miles away complaining of the same resistance I am encountering?

    Joseph OLeary

  8. Thank you for posting all this information. I had no idea this alternative treatment was available for dogs. I was concerned about our dog receiving surgery for her torn cruciate ligament. I was worried about how traumatic and invasive the procedure would be and I was concerned how she would handle such a long recovery period. We were about to book a surgery for our dog, but now we’ve scheduled a consultation with a vet near our home in LA for stem cell treatment. Thank you again for posting this!

  9. Our four year old lab tore her left knee ACL two years ago. We had a rubber-band like procedure done and it’s holding up well. Today, she started pulling up her right knee, exhibiting the same symptoms as her other knee. Do you know of lany Vets north of Seattle, Washington who are trained in stem cell knee replacement? We don’t want to put her through the same knee repair surgery yesterday. I if I

  10. My 5 year old Australian Shepherd tore her ACL (confirmed by MRI), and TPLO surgery was recommended. I am hesitant to put her through the surgery. Is there any place in Colorado that does this?

  11. My 9 year old Schnoodle tore his ACL. I have taken him to see 5 vets all with a different opinion than the last. I asked all of them about stem cell therapy before surgery. They all said that there has not been proven facts to support it. I love this little fella and would like to make the correct decision on his behalf. He is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning but I am really having a difficult time knowing if this is the best option with his tear. Five different opinions has made me uneasy. Schnoodles love to run. This is when he is the most happy.

  12. I have a 8 month old GSD over the weekend he started limping I let him eat all day Sunday but when he was still limping on Monday I took him to the local vet the did no X-ray but did do a physical exam and tell me he a a partial or full tear. He is too young for the standard protocols. I will gladly drive him to you can we do a phone consult prior. Poor guy is in pain and I feel like the wait fill him with pain meds and see option proposed to me isn’t going to work

  13. I have read that stem cell therapy is not effective on a completely ruptured CCL as there is simply not enough material to bridge the tear. However, you state that all 24 dogs you treated had full tears and recovered? My dog has a fully torn CCL and I’m very interested in stem cell injections but hesitant due to concerns about the effectiveness because of the severity of the tear. I don’t want to subject him to undue anesthesia or stress if it’s not likely to help…

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