The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is actually the cranial, or anterior, cruciate ligament in dogs. One of the most common causes of rear leg lameness in dogs, according to Michigan Veterinary Specialists, the ligament stabilizes the rear knee joint, or stifle. To diagnose a torn ligament, a veterinarian conducts a number of tests, including X-rays.
Diagnostic Testing for the ACL
Diagnosing an ACL rupture begins with a thorough examination and evaluation of your dog’s gait. ACL tears typically occur after a traumatic or overexertion injury, so your veterinarian may ask about recent behavior or accidents. Next, an X-ray looks at the joint structure and bone placement. An X-ray will not show damaged ligaments but a change in bone positioning shows that the ligaments may not be stabilizing the joint correctly. The X-ray also helps rule out other conditions, such as arthritis. The veterinarian then manipulates the joint to check for stabilization using two tests -- the drawer test and the tibial compression test -- to help confirm a tear.
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.