In what is being hailed as a world first, a bulldog has had a metal (mainly titanium) prosthesis implanted to replace a cancerous femur bone and hip joint.
The operation was carried out by Noel Fitzpatrick at Fitzpatrick Referrals in Godalming, Surrey.
The implant has a tendon in-growth attachment. Tissue and metal are “sandwiched” together over the gluteal muscles on top of the endoprosthetic femur –alternating tendon,Dacron mesh, tendon, mesh, tendon and trabecular metal –which has a honeycomb surface resembling a series of small chambers. The expectation is that tendons will permanently adhere to the surface.
The prosthesis was designed by Dr Fitzpatrick in collaboration with Professor Gordon Blunn, who heads the centre for bio-mechanical engineering at UCL’s Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science, and implant manufacturer OrthoFitz, a business setup by Dr Fitzpatrick to design, develop and manufacture customised implants for his patients.
Dr Fitzpatrick said that the bulldog, which had been referred by Ian Kynoch in Farnborough, was found to have osteosarcoma; the owner did not want the animal euthanased and amputation was not considered realistic, so limb salvage was the only practical and compassionate solution.
The dog has had four chemotherapy sessions since the operation and will continue to have one every three months.
- A BBC documentary series looking at the work of Fitzpatrick Referrals is currently being broadcast. Called The Bionic Vet, it features, among other cases, a cat which had two rear artifical limbs fitted after an accident with a combine harvester.