• Call Now
  • (913) 708.3394

Location - Carnation, WA 98014


(MPL) Medial Patella Luxation Repair


What is an MPL Surgery?

MPL surgery is aimed at correcting a luxating patella in the knee. This condition is more typically seen in smaller and toy breed sized dogs. A luxating patella happens when the knee cap slips in and out of its groove. A “skipping” gait is typically the result.

The repair is made by deepening the groove that the patella slides over, relocating the tibial insertion of the patellar tendon, and tightening up the tissues on the outside of the knee. All of these procedures are aimed at keeping the patella in its groove and pulling it more laterally.

Potential Complications

Won’t use the leg

Every once in a while we’ll get a little dog that gets use to not using his leg before or after surgery, and forms a habit of it. Even though the leg is mechanically functional and the surgery was successful at stabilizing the patella. Some of these little guys can be stubborn. In these cases, physical therapy is key.

Movement of orthopedic wires

Rarely, the wires used to hold the relocated bone fragment in place will begin to move and back out. If this happens, removing the wire is indicated.

Reluxation of the patella

This can occur if the dog is too active and proceeds to break its sutures. If this occurs, a revision surgery could be indicated.


Proper after care is essential with an MPL surgery. It is essential that you keep the patient on a leash at all times outside of the house. No running, jumping, or playing with other dogs is allowed. Stairs are also not allowed.

Even in the backyard, the patient should be on a leash. It is generally ok to have the dog off leash inside the house, but be sure that there is no running or jumping onto furniture. It is not advisable to leave the patient loose in the house while you are gone.

The following are guidelines to be followed for the next eight weeks following an MPL surgery.
Week One
Incision care: An e-collar should be worn consistently for the first 14 days after surgery. The dog should never lick it’s incision. If you see swelling, redness, or discharge see your veterinarian right away.
Cold packing: For the first three days after surgery, ice the incision for 5 minutes twice daily. A cold pack can be made by wrapping a bag of frozen peas in a clean damp towel.
Warm packing: After three days of cold packing the incision you should switch to warm-packing twice daily for the next three days. A warm pack can be made by placing a clean sock filled with rice in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Be sure to wrap the warm pack in a thin towel in order to avoid burns.
Passive Range of Motion: Begin this just a few days after surgery if the dog can tolerate it. To do this, gently extend the hip so the leg sticks out behind the dog and hold it for about 5 seconds in extension. Next, bring the leg forward gently to flex the hip joint. You will need to do this 10-15 times 2-3 times a day. This exercise can be done while holding the dog, or while the dog lays on her side.
Massage: Gently massage the thigh and gluteal muscles for about 5 minutes twice daily.
Lease walks: Start taking your dog for 5-10 minute walks. Do this even if they aren’t willing to use the leg yet.

Physical Therapy Exercises


Have dog sit then call it so it stands and comes to you. Repeat 10 times twice daily.

Figure 8 walks

Circle to left and to the right 10 times twice daily.


Lift front legs off the ground and “dance” with your dog by holding him there gently for about 30 seconds. Do this a few times a day.

Uneven surface walking

Have the dog walk over a wobbly surface back and forth 10-15 times twice daily. Good surfaces like this can include a thick foam mattress, an air mattress, a bunch of blankets, a line of pillows etc.


Swimming is great physical therapy for dogs. If you have swim therapy be sure to take advantage of it as much as you can.

More Information

For more information on aftercare please see the MPL rehabilitation instructions.

Riverbend Veterinary

Riverbend Veterinary orthopedic surgeries performed in-house at your local veterinary clinic in King County, WA and surrounding areas.

Contact Details

Carnation, WA 98014

(913) 708.3394