Vets lead in dog injury solution

A VETERINARY centre believes it is the first in the city to offer a pioneering new treatment – a titanium implant for dogs.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 17th October 2011, 1:03 pm

The procedure is being offered at the Oak Tree Veterinary Centre to repair cruciate ligament rupture in dogs – a common injury – using a titanium foam wedge called Orthofoam.

Alistair Marks, principal veterinary surgeon at the centre, was part of the first intake of surgeons to be trained in Newcastle last month and believes he carried out the first procedure in the Capital around a month ago.

He said: “Cruciate ligament failure is a very common cause of hind leg lameness in a dog, which is particularly problematic with larger dogs. The big advantage of the new technique is that you don’t cut the long axis of the tibia bone, so the load bearing part of the bone is not cut into.

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“Once you have cut the front of the tibia and moved it forward, the titanium foam is the exact fit of the gap that you want to fill.

“The bone grows into the titanium foam over a few weeks, creating a secure and permanent bond with the bone. The dog is much more comfortable post-operation and recovers more quickly.

“When it’s all calmed down, it should never cause the dog problems again.”

Mr Marks said recovery times improved by almost a month as a result of the new procedure, which costs £1200.

He added: “Cruciate ligament ruptures have been something we have been repairing for many years.

“Maybe you will never get the perfect repair but I think the new technique has a significant advantage, both in terms of patient recovery and robustness.” Mr Marks has already carried out the procedure on two dogs – Cody, a four-year-old yellow labrador, and Sacha, a spaniel.

He said: “After three days Cody jumped out the back of the car and was dancing on his back legs, excited about getting his biscuits. He’s doing really well – well ahead of my expectation of our old technique.

“I saw our second case, Sacha, three days post-operation on Friday. He is already walking quite well on the leg.”

Cody’s owner, Anne Connolly, who lives in Corstorphine, said: “They cut a wedge shape out of the bottom part of his leg below the knee and inserted the titanium sponge into it.

“He has been fantastic since the operation. I’m just amazed at how quickly he’s recovered, considering how invasive the operation is.”

Mr Marks added: “I believe the titanium foam is also being used in people for all sorts of serious surgery.”