Saturday, 19 June 2010

Braver than brave

This is Oscar from Jersey who came to grief last October under the blades of a combine harvester whilst snoozing in a field; in a terrible state, his human rushed him to his vet who had read about state of the art prosthetic limb surgery. Oscar was referred to Noel Fitzpatrick, a veterinary surgeon in Surrey who agreed to make him the first subject of his ground-breaking plans to fit mechanical implants into bone.
The three hour, £4,000 operation was a world first; his new paws were developed by a
team under Professor Blunn of the University College London and are custom-made implants called intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics (Itaps) that "peg" the ankle to the foot. The weight bearing implants are bioengineered to mimic the way deer antler bone grows through the skin; the pegs are coated with hydroxyapatite, to encourage bone cells to grow onto the metal.  
The idea was initially developed for patients with amputations who have a "stump socket"; the Itap technology is being tested in humans and has already been used to create a prosthetic for a woman who lost her arm in the July 2005 London bombings. 

Mr Fitzpatrick explained: "The real revolution with Oscar is [that] we have put a piece of metal and a flange into which skin grows into an extremely tight bone.  We have managed to get the bone and skin to grow into the implant and we have developed an 'exoprosthesis' that allows this implant to work as a see-saw on the bottom of an animal's limbs to give him effectively normal gait."
"The intriguing thing with Oscar was that he had two implants - one in each back leg, and in quite an unusual site," Professor Blunn told BBC News.  He said that the success of this operation showed the potential of the technology.
"Noel has some brilliant ideas," he added. "And we're continuing to work closely with him to develop new technologies." 
This definitely counts as one of his nine lives, let's hope he doesn't snooze in any more fields.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear what you think! Please leave a comment x