TPO Surgery

When I was looking into whether or not to get TPO surgery for Borrego, I looked high and low for a normal person’s account of what the process would be like.  All I found was a gazillion doctor perspectives.  I initially published this “diary” in another venue, which is about to be archived but find that this information may still be useful to someone out there.  It’s been 11 years since I had the TPO surgery done for Borrego and, to this day, I do not regret having done it.  While she is now approaching 12 years old and is a little stiff, I shudder to think of how much pain she might be in now had I not made the decision to do it.  To follow, please find my account from 2003 of our experience of this process.

June 10, 2003
Borrego was diagnosed with hip dysplasia in her left hip a couple of weeks ago and things are progressing very quickly. The surgeon said that both hips have abnormalities but that her right hip could grow into normal. She goes in today for surgery on her left hip.

The surgery is called Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO). Basically they will cut her hip bones in three places, reposition them and then put them all back together with a few screws and metal plates. The idea is that she is still growing, so her body will accept this as normal and incorporate it much more naturally into herself.

Following the surgery, she will have to be mostly immobile for a month and then on limited but increasing activity for the following two months. We are pretty nervous about this period.

In my research about the condition and the treatment she will be undergoing, I found a lot of clinical information but not a lot of personal accounts of what to expect from the recovery. I found one really good accounting here ( I’m will try to be another such accounting for the next person.

June 11, 2003
The surgery yesterday went very well according to Dr. Cooper (her vet). When I went to pick her up everyone told me that she was really going to be a handful since she was evidently up and about within hours after her surgery. Sure enough she practically bounded out of the back offices. Evidently she really bonded to Dr. Cooper and spent the day sleeping in her office. Huge hugs came her way from all the nurses as well.

I was cautioned very strongly to limit her movement – no jumping, no stairs, only outside on a leash to potty and back in. Again Dr. Cooper laughed and said that she was gonna be tough to keep quiet. She gave us some happy drugs to keep her calm if we need them.

Borrego seemed happy to be home and after a brief potty break, nose touches with Tobee (who wasn’t totally sure what was up with her) and trying to lick at her stitches until she realized I wouldn’t let her, she calmed into a nap.

Later on in the evening was trying to chase the cats and ended up spread eagle on the floor. We had to give her some Valium to get her to stop trying to play.

Last night was a long night. I slept on the floor in the family room with Borrego. While she only woke up and tried to chew on her stitches a few times, I woke up every time she moved even slightly. The floor was hard and cold but it’s worth it for my baby.

This morning she wouldn’t stay still unless I laid with her. When she got too bored we played a little toss with a ball. She is learning how to toss the ball to me and can do that laying down. We wrestled a little with the squeaky toy and now she’s sleeping with Tobee while I work from home.

She seems stiffer than she was yesterday and it is painful for me to watch her walk. Other than walking stiffly though she certainly is bearing with the pain better than I expected. I haven’t heard even a whimper.

Borrego is moving more easily today and even laid on her left side for a while. She doesn’t understand why she can’t play outside and keeps knocking to go out and acting pretty disappointed when we go out into the back yard with her on her leash, ask her to go potty and then come right back in. She has gotten pretty adept at pottying by leaning on her front legs and then listing a bit to the right so that no weight is on her left hip.

I think she’s getting a little bored. She keeps bringing us numerous toys to play with. She’s getting quite good at laying down and tossing the ball to us so that we can roll it back. I think she realizes that that is about the only game we will consistently play.

Her incisions are starting to look a little less gory, or maybe we’re just getting used to them. She isn’t trying to lick at them as much as she’s chewing at the shave lines between fur and no fur.

Today Borrego was a lot more active and it was very hard to keep her still. She has been chewing a lot at the edge that was shaved (not on her incisions thank god). It’s getting pretty rashy. We called the vet to see if we could put anything on it and how much we could let her up. The vet said that we could put Neosporin on the rash and that if we needed to she could do a little walking in the house.

Grampa came to visit her and was her first official visitor. After a little excitement she calmed down. Later in the day Doug took her out on a leash to lay in the sun a bit. After that, she and Tobee hung out for a bit on the floor.

In the evening she was getting pretty wound up and ended up yiking when she was trying to twist around to chew further down her back. We ended up having to give her a sedative to calm her down to stop chewing on herself.

Borrego is already getting more reluctant to spend time in the kennel. I’m not sure if it is comfortable for her to move around in but unfortunately it is the best way that I can think of to keep her inactive while we’re out. We are so glad that she was kennel trained though because at least she understands that she is supposed to go in there and that it is not a punishment.

Today she was visited by the Oberles. She really really wanted to play but Linda was very good at getting her to lay down so that they could play without her running around. Linda will be helping with her swim therapy when we get to that point.


Borrego got her stitches out today. It is amazing how quickly that heals. She was ultra excited to be back at the vets office and see all her buddies.

We’re just counting the days until we can allow Borrego to be fully active again. We’ve got still her gated into the family room and have the couch blocked off. Borrego has settled into a nice routine in the kennel during the day and then a few hours of limited play time at night. We got her a cube that has food inside and she enjoys just pushing that around the family room. We figure that’s fairly low impact. Her scars are becoming less noticeable every day and she has a light peach fuzz growing back in her bald spots. When she stands she mostly stands on her three legs but seems to use the left leg a little when walking. Other than that you would barely know she’d had major surgery only a couple of weeks ago.

I haven’t updated this in a while because things have been status quo and Borrego has been getting more and more restless waiting for her 6 week check up and the possibility of more activity. She’s been mostly good and we are endlessly grateful that we crate trained her and that she’s been so good about all the restrictions – but has chewed up several rugs and a cat tree out of boredom so we are all waiting with bated breath for the vet to say we’ve done everything right and can move into a little more activity. Tomorrow is that day.

Today was the all day evaluation at the vets office. Good news and very bad news.Good: Borrego’s left hip is healing marvelously and better than expected. Bad: Her right hip has fallen further out-of-place and will probably need the same surgery. The surgeon returns from vacation in two days and we’ll schedule him to come double-check the vets findings. Chances are we’re in for another long stint of recovery. We’re very disappointed but, of course, will do everything we need to in order to ensure her health and long-term well-being.

Dr. Bodie (the surgeon) returned early from his vacation and, after looking at the x-rays taken by Dr. Cooper, said that it is conclusive for her need for the surgery. She is scheduled for August 11. We are insanely disappointed but it is what it is I guess.

Borrego’s second TPO surgery for her other hip was Monday. The vet said that she came through it great. We picked her up on Tuesday afternoon. She seemed a little wobblier than the last time but then last time she had another hip to count on. Even the vet said the same thing – that she’s trying to use this hip too much because she’s used to relying on it.

It has been a long couple of days because everything Borrego does seems uncomfortable. She keeps trying to lay on the newly operated on hip and then isn’t sure what to do. She tries to run after the cats and falls. She seems a little more depressed than last time. But then I’m also thinking that we expected worse from her last time and she was better than expected and maybe our expectations went the other way this time.

Today was the first day that she seemed less invalid. I know that we have a long stretch ahead of us. I am lucky to be able to work from home this first week of her recuperation.

our 6 week appointment! This was a great day. Dr. Volk looked at Borrego’s x-rays and said they couldn’t be better. He pointed out a couple of places that were still healing but said that he didn’t really need to see her again other than regular check ups.

He said that we could probably start her out on some swimming and walks about 30 minutes long. He said that we could unblock our couches and let her have more run of the house unless she seems to be slipping too much on our pergo. He recommended that we hold off on any hard running or dog park activity for about another month just to give it full time to heal.

Of course I brought her to work today. She played with Dutch (Eric’s lab puppy) which made me very nervous but also was cool to see how incredibly happy she was.

I have been ramping up her activity little by little over this last month. She is so much calmer now that she’s getting more activity. It still makes me nervous when she’s jumping or running. I’m still too nervous to bring her to the dog park.

We started back up in training classes with Joella on Tuesday – I’m having her repeat Advanced Obedience just to rehash some of the commands we haven’t really worked in a while and to give her a feeling of accomplishment since she already knows most of it.

Water therapy in the back yard continues to be both fun and helpful as the doctor mentioned that she is doing much better than many dogs at this point in recovery.

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