Exciting News in Veterinary Medicine: Artificial KneesPublished February 12, 2010
The state of the art of modern human medicine is extraordinary today. Oftentimes we take much of it for granted. Hip, knee and ankle replacement surgeries are commonplace, and have given folks the opportunity to once again be virtually pain-free and able to engage in many daily activities which were at one time, impossible for them. And for those who have undergone these procedures, many consider them to be truly miraculous. But what about our pets who suffer from arthritis, who have been seriously injured and who remain in constant pain? What is now available for our pets who have lost the ability to move about so they can get about comfortably? It appears that British Veterinary medicine has taken a huge leap in that direction. Missy. Photo credit: Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick After a speeding car struck Missy, an eight year-old tabby cat from West Sussex, who had been hiding in a bush for two days, found by her owner, Louise Morris who rushed her for urgent care to veterinarian, Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick an orthopedic specialist and owner of Fitzpatrick Referrals in Guilford, Dr. Fitzpatrick discovered that the kitty had sustained some serious injuries. Her hind leg was broken in eight places, and she had a dislocated knee in the other leg. In an interview with PEOPLEPets.com, Dr. Fitzpatrick said, "Missy was a much loved family cat and not ready to be put to sleep although both legs were hurt badly. She had nasty fractured bones in the arch of one foot and on the other leg, the knee was totally dislocated. Amputation was not an option since the other hind leg was broken in eight places. So I developed an artificial knee which had never before been done." The first thing Dr. Fitzpatrick did in order to perform this pioneering procedure was to fix Missy's broken leg by creating a collagen mesh from a pigs' bladder. Then he placed the broken bones in a combination of pins called Secure Pin Intramedullary Dorsal Epoxy Resin Frame (SPIDER). In explaining the procedure he said, "Basically, Missy's foot was set with pins that stuck out. The bones had to heal that way for three weeks." He then enlisted the help of several other professionals in developing an artificial knee for Missy's other leg. Dr. Fitzpatrick added, "We took a scan of her knee, measured all of her bones, put that information in a computer, then developed a knee out of metal. We worked like an architect would design a building." The greatest difficulty with which he was faced was to be able to craft a metal replacement that was small enough for the diminutive kitty. He described her as "the sweetest and most loving" cat he had met, and his goal was to be able to fashion a replacement knee implant which would permit her to jump and crouch after healing, because her passion is running and catching mice. It took 2.5 hours to complete the surgery in which Dr. Fitzpatrick placed three inch-long stainless steel implants, attaching it with cement to her shin and thigh bones. In further discussion about the surgery, Dr. Fitzpatrick said, "It took four weeks to heal and we are coming to the end of that time. Missy is so happy because she can jump. But we still have her on a leash for another week or more just to be sure." As you can imagine, Ms. Morris is completed thrilled with the results. Dr. Fitzpatrick said, "It is so heartwarming to see Missy cuddle in her mom's arms. They absolutely love her." While this incredible surgery is brand new, since Missy was the first cat in the world to receive a knee replacement, it certainly does open many doors to pets around the world who may benefit from the procedure. It will improve the quality of the lives of many animals, as orthopedic veterinary specialists consult with one another and learn more about how to provide it for those pets in need. What are your thoughts about this promising addition to the field of veterinary medicine? Do leave a comment and share.