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A personal journey through my dog's ACL surgery: 3News' Lydia Esparra shares her pet's story in Ready Pet GO!

Lydia Esparra shows us what happens inside a veterinary surgery room as her dog, Lady, undergoes an operation.

CLEVELAND — It's a busy day at West Park Animal Hospital with dogs and cats constantly coming in and out. 

On this particular day, my dog, Lady, is scheduled for knee surgery.  

Dr. Kane Hendersen is the veterinarian who will perform the operation at West Park.

He says Lady tore her ACL, but in actuality she will have surgery to repair her cranial cruciate ligament, which requires an implant. 

"That essentially is a spacer which when we make this cut we will be able to advance this piece of the bone forward," Dr. Hendersen explains. "And this implant is basically maintaining this space." 

Just a brief explainer: The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a thin connective tissue in the middle of our human knees. In dogs, this connective tissue is called crainial cruciate ligament.

After a thorough explanation, the preparation for surgery begins. Amanda Vershall is the veterinary technician who lets us know they're ready for Lady. 

They give her something to calm her down. Then, within minutes Lady is asleep and carried into the operating room. 

The team begins shaving Lady's injured leg and prepping her for surgery. And just like a human operation, all her vitals are monitored. 

Dr. Hendersen says he does this type of surgery often.

"Nowadays, it's literally the absolute most common orthopedic procedure that we do and the orthopedic injury that we see," he explains.

The first cut into the patient shows just how obvious there was a major injury.

"We do have a decent amount of arthritis here," Dr. Henderson observes. 

He says it's typical to see a lot of damage for this kind of a knee tear.  

"Really, the whole back side is completely torn. It's the front that's still intact. The medial meniscus is actually torn and flipped forward," he adds.

Once inside, the torn ACL is removed and the implant is strategically placed.

Finally, after nearly three hours, Lady is taken to recovery.

While she is still very groggy, vet techs work to wake her up. Lady sees me and quickly tries to walk in my direction. But she can't. So I leave so as not to upset her since she needs to spend the night.

The next day she comes out limping on three legs, happy to see me, but wondering why she is like this. 

Now we move on to the recovery, which can take up to three months, if not more. The first month is most critical, as your dog must be on a leash at all times with no running or jumping, along with physical therapy.

During month two, they can begin to go on short walks, before finally transitioning back to a normal life in month three.

Lydia has more on Lady's recovery from her operation in the player below.


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