Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures in Dogs

Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Pain / Papules / Swelling

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Rated as moderate conditon

11 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Pain / Papules / Swelling

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Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What are Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures?

Tibial tuberosity avulsion fracture usually occurs in younger dogs due to the area of the tibia not being fully fused to the rest of the bone. Puppies diagnosed with this type of fracture usually have had some sort of trauma such as falling from a couch or bed and landing with the knee flexed. This can tear the bone fragment from its normal position. If left untreated, a tibial tuberosity avulsion fracture can result in poor function of the knee joint or the entire leg.

Young puppies of any breed can be susceptible to tibial tuberosity avulsion fractures. Small breed dogs, especially toy breeds of any age can also have a tibial tuberosity avulsion fracture occur if they fall or jump off of furniture or steps.

The tibial tuberosity attaches the patella to the tibia with a strong tendon of the quadriceps muscle group. A fracture of the tibial tuberosity can result in an avulsion fracture and pull the quadriceps muscles. An avulsion fracture happens when a bone has been broken and a fragment of the bone is being separated by the pull of an attached muscle or tendon.

Symptoms of Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures in Dogs

Dogs, especially puppies, can come up with bumps and bruises from any number of causes. However, if you notice that your puppy or young dog has taken a spill and is not acting like his normal self, call your veterinarian for an assessment. Any of the following symptoms should be taken seriously and your dog should immediately see a veterinarian.

  • Sudden onset of lameness on a hind leg 
  • Refusing to bear weight on a hind leg
  • Pain in the joint or leg on a hind leg
  • Swelling around the front of the knee joint on a hind leg

Causes of Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures in Dogs

Tibial tuberosity avulsion fractures are caused by some form of trauma. They can be difficult to prevent, however, some preventative measures can be taken such as not allowing puppies or small dogs on furniture unsupervised. 

Be careful not to drop puppies or small breeds of dogs when holding them and never allow them to jump on or off furniture. If you have a lot of steps in your home, pick your puppy up and carry them up or down the stairs.

Diagnosis of Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures in Dogs

When you take your dog in for an examination by your veterinarian, provide as much information as possible including medical history and if you witnessed falls or stumbles. Your veterinarian will perform a physical exam and an orthopedic evaluation to determine the extent of damage that has been done.

Your veterinarian will palpate the injured leg. The leg will be painful to your dog when it is flexed or extended. Swelling may be present and the patella may be higher than usual since it is no longer attached firmly to the tibia.

X-rays and other imaging scans will give a definitive diagnosis. Both legs will be x-rayed so a comparison can be made and the exact displacement of the bone fragment can be found.

In most instances, the tibial tuberosity avulsion fracture is the only medical problem, therefore, blood work will only be needed in the event of surgery. Any dog undergoing general anesthetic should have blood work completed to ensure that they are healthy enough to undergo surgery.

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Treatment of Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures in Dogs

Generally, for a tibial tuberosity avulsion fracture, surgery is the best treatment. Some veterinarians may opt to rest the leg if the avulsion fraction does not look severe to give the swelling a chance to subside. Casting the leg may also be an option if the displacement is minimal.

Surgery will entail putting the bone back into its correct position to keep the quadriceps muscles from continuing to pull the bone fragment out of place. Your dog will be placed under anesthesia and pins and/or wire will be used to correct the fracture. After the bone has been put back into place x-rays will be taken to ensure that the realignment of the bone is correct.

Recovery of Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures in Dogs

Post surgery care will be required and some veterinarians will expect your dog to remain at the hospital overnight or for a few days for close monitoring. A padded bandage on the leg will be required to keep the incision site clean. Anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics may be prescribed as well as pain medications.

During recovery from surgery, swelling or redness need to be watched for and any abnormal drainage from the incision site to ensure that the wound is healing properly. If you notice anything unusual, contact your veterinarian immediately. Stitches or staples will be removed about 10 – 14 days following surgery. Exercise should be kept minimal for about 6 weeks following surgery. Your veterinarian will give you detailed instructions that need to be followed exactly to ensure that your dog fully heals from the tibial tuberosity avulsion fracture and the consequential surgery.

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Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures Average Cost

From 431 quotes ranging from $1,800 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,500

Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Kujai

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Chihuahua

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5 Months

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Mild condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Discomfort

I have a chihuahua long hair 5 months old and recently she fell backwards trying to jump on a chair. She was diagonised with a tibial avulsion fracture and the vet gave me two options conservative treatment or surgery to put three pins. She is her normal self and she has been lifting her leg a bit but the majority of the time walking on it. Do you still recommending the surgery? I am worried because of all the anastetics and procedure and she hasn't been in great deal of pain.

Sept. 13, 2018

Kujai's Owner

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Rooster

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Yorkshire Terrier

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8 Months

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Fair condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Limp,
Limp, Aggresion,

Hello All! My 8 month old Yorkie suffered from this injury (tibial tuberosity.. ). I've read thru everyone else's questions about recovery and it's a relief that I'm not the only one with a million questions. However, my concern is the long term effects of all the tranquilizers and sedatives I'm having to put Rooster on to keep him quiet. Some days they work great, some days he seems a little aggressive and not my sweet puppy he usually is. Its breaking my heart to see him so glassy eyed and confused. He is on trazodone and Ace. Is there a chance of long term side effects from all this medication for 6 wks? Thank you for your time

July 21, 2018

Rooster's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Sedatives can alter dogs behaviors dramatically, but don't tend to have any long lasting effects. Once Rooster is healed and off these medications, your sweet puppy will return!

July 21, 2018

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Bella

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Beagle boxer

dog-age-icon

7 Months

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Mild condition

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Limping

My dog had a tibial avolsion fracture at 4 months old on her left hind leg with surgery. She has healed and is 7 1/2 months old. What is her risk for having the same injury on the other leg? Are certain breeds predisposed to this injury? We don’t know exactly how she sustained the injury as she was in a crate at a kennel when it happened but it was likely from jumping. She had an episode of sudden limping with her right leg this Sunday when playing with another dog at a dog park, but she recovered from this by the next day but we are still worried. Should we limit her activity until she is a little older until her bones are completely fused? She is a mix breed likely boxer and beagle mix and is currently about 35 lbs, thank you for your help!

April 25, 2018

Bella's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Typically tibial tuberosity avulsion fractures occur in larger breed dogs between four and eight months of age (although it may occur up to twelve months), it would be good to keep an eye on Bella’s activity especially if she has been showing signs of pain or limping. Giving her gentle exercise may be best until she is over a year old. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 26, 2018

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Buddy

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Pit bull

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6 Months

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Moderate condition

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-1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Limping And Swollen Knee Area

My 6 month old pit bull suffered a tibia and tibial tuberosity avulsion. Surgery was suggested as treatment from our vet. After surgery my main concern is will he be able to be back to his normal self. With no limp in the leg or disfigurement. Also would he be prone to breaking that area in his leg again in the future because it was broke once already?

Feb. 16, 2018

Buddy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without knowing more about Buddy's injury, I'm not sure whether he will be prone to the injury again, as I'm not sure if it was a traumatic event, or a confromational problem. It would be best for you to ask your veteirnarian what his prognosis might be after the surgery, and if he is prone to having this injury occur again or whether it was a one-time traumatic event. I hope that all goes well with him.

Feb. 17, 2018

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Anakin

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Pomchi

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5 Months

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Limping
Sad

Our 5 month old Pomchi fell off the bed while sleeping and our vet took x-rays and told us he has an avulsion fracture to his tibia and would require surgery. My question is about quality of life after a surgery to repair this. Is he young enough that he will most likely return to full normal use of his leg after time? Or will he suffer from this his whole life? It's not my first dog, but my first toy breed and I know how delicate their bones can be so I'm not sure how it will effect him. He is still young but almost at his full weight (he's 9lbs now) so hopefully this surgery wont cause him lifelong discomfort.

Jan. 4, 2018

Anakin's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Generally this surgery has a good success rate, the tuberosity is fixated back and there are minimal long term complications; you would need to speak with your Veterinarian about the details but smaller dogs do well due to low weight and stress on the joint. Mild cases may only require medical therapy, but surgery is the treatment of choice. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 4, 2018

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Hazel

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Pit bull

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6 Months

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Fair condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Lameness

My 6 month old pit bull Hazel was diagnosed with a Tibial Crest Avulsion a few days ago, but the doctor wants to wait a week to see if the fracture moves at all since it’s minimal. She was prescribed trazadone as a sedative so that she won’t be jumping off the wall. She’s never showed any signs of pain and has actually been very playful and kept the same energetic and fun attitude through it all. I noticed her limp to go away. Do you think a cast will suffice in this matter?

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Glow

dog-breed-icon

Pit bull

dog-age-icon

16 Weeks

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Lameness

Hi - My 16 week old puppy has just been diagnosed with a tibial tuberosity avulsion fracture. She is a very large breed and growing at an exponential rate. She already weighs 36 lbs. I have been referred to an orothopedic surgeon for discussion by my vet but I am deeply worried about a surgical fix on such a young dog with so much remaining growth potential. Her mom is 70 lbs and as she is a rescue mutt, I have no way of knowing the other side of her parentage. But I have had her since she was two weeks old and her growth rate has been astonishing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Carli

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Shorkie Tzu

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5 Months

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Mild condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Limping

My 5 month old Shorkie jumped off the bed which was really normal for her and we didn’t think much of it until we noticed she was limping and not bearing any weight on her left hind leg. Our normal vet recommended us to a higher vet hospital further away. They confirmed it was a tibial tuberosity avulsion fracture and opted to do surgery. About two hours after leaving her there we got a call saying that they decided that her knee and tibia were strong enough and they ended up just casting it. Shes currently still casted I’ve read a lot about how surgery is normally better to fix this, so I can’t help but be worried that this approach isn’t going to work.

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Ibra

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Australian Shepherd

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5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Fracture

I have a five month-old Australian Shepherd who has a tibial tuberosity avulsion fracture and our orthopedic surgeon would like to place pins and wire. I am worried about his growth afterwards, the surgeon did state that his leg would not grow longer after the pins are placed but that he does not anticipate our Aussie’s legs growing more than another centimeter. I disagree that he will not grow anymore, but will the surgery really hinder growth of the leg in length?

Tibial Tuberosity Avulsion Fractures Average Cost

From 431 quotes ranging from $1,800 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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