Systematic review of postoperative rehabilitation interventions after cranial cruciate ligament surgery in dogs

Leilani X Alvarez, Jennifer A Repac, Kristin Kirkby Shaw, Nashua Compton
Vet Surg. 2022 Jan 12. doi: 10.1111/vsu.13755.

Objective: To critically evaluate the evidence for rehabilitation interventions following surgery for cranial cruciate ligament disease (CCLD) in dogs.

Study design: Systematic review.

Sample population: METHODS: Google Scholar and Pubmed databases were searched for studies evaluating postoperative CCLD rehabilitation interventions from 1990 until March 2020 per the international Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO). Each study was assigned a level of evidence score from I to IV and a risk of bias (RoB) score by 2 reviewers, and by a third reviewer, when consensus was not reached.

Results: Nineteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Twelve comprised randomized, controlled trials (Level II), 6 were nonrandomized or nonblinded (Level III), and one was retrospective (Level IV). Nine studies had high RoB scores. Sixteen studies yielded positive results. Therapeutic exercise had the most studies with positive results but all had high RoB. Cold compression therapy had 3 supporting studies (2 Level II, low RoB). Extracorporeal shockwave yielded 2 positive Level II studies (low-moderate and high-moderate RoB) and photobiomodulation had 1 positive study (Level II, low RoB) with objective outcomes. A negative outcome was noted in 1 photobiomodulation study. There was 1 supporting study on electrical stimulation and there was none on low-intensity pulsed ultrasound.

Conclusion: This systematic review supports the use of rehabilitation interventions in recovery of postoperative CCLD in dogs; however, many studies had a high risk of bias.

Clinical significance: There is a lack of class I level evidence in veterinary rehabilitation. This study supports therapeutic exercise and cold compression therapy for postoperative CCLD rehabilitation. Existing studies on other modalities are limited and demonstrate conflicting results.