Medially Luxating Patella (MLP)

Priced from $2,150 - $2,400
Jump to

What is a medially luxating patella (MLP)?

A medially luxating patella (MLP) happens when the patella (the kneecap) moves out of the stifle (the knee) and moves to the side of the stifle. An animal with a mild MLP will just move around in and out of its normal place.

This can lead to the cartilage under the patella and femur wearing down, which can cause pain and lameness in the animal. When the luxating patellae move over time, if left untreated, most of them stay that way for good.

Diagnosis methods

Every now and then, people notice their pet skip or hop a little; this behaviour can be a sign they are trying to get their patella back in the right place. Your pet won't feel pain until cartilage loss results in bone to bone contact. The animal will be lame by that point, not just hop a little. Knee palpation will show whether the kneecap is in the right place or if it moves quickly into and out of the correct position. Crepitus, which is the loss of cartilage and bone-on-bone contact, may also be taking place at the same time.

Treatment options

In some cases where the dog hops a little but isn't yet lame, weight loss, no more rotational activities like fetching, and medications like Cartrophen or Zydax may head off the need for surgery. However, if cartilage loss is causing pain and lameness, surgery will be the best course of action. Animals with MLP are treated by cutting away part of the bone on the tibial crest. Then, they move the bone to the side and attach it with a pin again. This moves the patella tendon, which keeps the patella in the right place. When we do surgery, we will deepen the femur groove to make it more difficult for the patella to move in and out of its normal place. When we do this, we separate the medial adductor muscles from the thigh muscles so that they don't pull on the thigh muscles. This allows the patella to move more naturally at the femur.

Chihuahua, Boo, 3 year old, during surgery



We charge between $2,150 - $2,400 for this procedure, which we conduct regularly and proficiently. At an animal hospital or referral centre, surgery to repair MLP in dogs typically costs between $3,500 and $5,000.

Optional pre-anaesthetic blood test available for all surgeries (additional cost)


Recovery and aftercare

For the first four weeks after surgery, we recommend taking short walks several times a day, with rest needed at all other times. The tibial crest can then reattach and heal properly. It's possible to begin off-lead activities six weeks after the procedure. Additionally, we use Zydax (pentosan polysulphate) to reduce bone inflammation and aid in cartilage repair. A six-month course of four injections each week is recommended to avoid long-term arthritis development.

Dr. Scot Plummer

Meet Dr. Scot Plummer


Dr Plummer has always had a deep love for animals and graduated from the University of Queensland with Honours. in his Bachelor of Veterinary Science. After the success of his Brisbane clinic, Dr Plummer has launched Melbourne Pet Surgery with the goal of lowering the cost of high-quality pet care for all Melburnians.

Book a Consult
Book a consultation with one of our experienced veterinarians using the form below and we will be in touch to confirm your appointment.