CCL rupture is usually diagnosed during the physical examination, however it can also be diagnosed with arthroscopy or an MRI scan. Dr. Bergh may use several tests to assess your dog for CCL rupture during the orthopedic examination, including:

Cranial drawer test

Once joint instability develops, it can be detected during palpation as the tibia can be moved forward in relation to the femur during a cranial drawer test. +

Tibial thrust test

To test for the presence of tibial thrust, weight bearing is mimicked and Dr. Bergh will watch to see if the front of the tibia can be seen pushing forward in relation to the femur. +


One of the first signs present prior to instability may be pain upon full extension (i.e., hyperextension) of the stifle, likely due to stretching of the abnormal fibers of the CCL.  +

It is important to keep in mind that many patients with a partial CCL tears may not display obvious joint instability during examination (i.e., they are for negative cranial drawer and tibial thrust), despite being lame and painful. These dogs still suffer from the condition and can be treated – you do not need to wait until they progress to a complete CCL tear.