Entries in Veterinarian (3)


Cat’s New Knee an Ortho-PET-ic Innovation

Comstock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- A photogenic 20-pound orange tabby was resting comfortably in an intensive care unit on Saturday following pioneering replacement of a cancer-weakened knee by veterinary surgeons at North Carolina State University whose work could advance the field of human prosthetics.

Veterinarians were monitoring the recuperation of Cyrano, a 10-year-old cat, “and if things continue to go well, he could go home in the next few days,” said university spokesperson Tracey Peake. The School of Veterinary Medicine has been providing periodic updates on a blog.

Cyrano got a new lease on life thanks to top-tier veterinary care. He underwent life-saving chemotherapy and radiation for bone cancer at Colorado State University in 2010. However, while the thousands of dollars of treatments put Cyrano in remission, the combined ravages of his disease and treatment side effects left him with bone deterioration in his back leg and knee, causing pain and restricting his movements.

On Thursday, a 10-member surgical team led by Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little, an orthopedic surgeon at NCSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, N.C., spent hours giving Cyrano a customized implant designed and created during six months of collaborative work among U.S. and German veterinarians and engineers. They fashioned the implant, about the size of a tube of lip balm, from cobalt chromium and plastic.

Marcellin-Little has described the implant as being “as good as the implants used in human knee replacements.”

The high-tech operation allowed Cyrano to escape amputation, the goal sought by his owner, Sandy Lerner, a founder of Cisco Systems, and owner of a farm in northern Virginia. Marcellin-Little and his fellow implant developers hope Cyrano’s surgery will help make the procedure more available and affordable for other pets.

Marcellin and engineering professor Ola Harryson couldn’t put a figure on the total cost of Cyrano’s experimental surgery, because 14 people and several companies donated time and materials for the research. However, Lerner paid $20,000 of the total cost, Peake said.

The collaboration has implications for artificial limbs to help “people who have lost limbs to disease, accidents, or combat,” said Dave Green, the top spokesman for NCSU’s veterinary school.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Pets Having Plastic Surgery

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While cosmetic procedures such as ear cropping and tail docking have petered out, plastic surgery for dogs continues to boom -- most of it for medical reasons.

"We don't usually do things for cosmetic reasons in pets, there's usually a medical reason," said Idaho-based veterinarian Marty Becker.

With the famously high-maintenance bulldog breaking into the nation's top 10 registered breeds, those medical reasons are mounting.  The breed's deep skin folds are prone to infection, and their flattened noses and pillowy soft palates can complicate breathing (not to mention cause loud snoring).

But a tummy tuck or a nose job can have dogs and their owners resting easy.  Becker has even used Botox to relax tight puppy wrinkles, he said.

If puppy Botox sounds bizarre, picture a dog with braces.  Crooked teeth can cause painful sores, Becker said, describing one dog that had to sleep with a toy in his mouth before he got the "Rin Tin Grin," or braces for dogs.

And then there's Neuticles -- bean-shaped silicone implants swapped in through a tiny scrotal slit during the neutering procedure.

"It's typically men who want them for their dogs," said Becker of the fake testicles, adding that male owners often ask about upsizing.  "And you can always tell when a dog has them, because when he sits on the exam room table they clank!"

Some vets and pet owners oppose the testicular implants.

"This type of procedure is really only for one thing: To promote the ego of the owners," said Craig Swinson, whose adopted rescue dog Percy came with Neuticles, which was discovered when the dog was in surgery to be neutered.  "Dogs don't know and they don't care."

Swinson, whose wife is a vet in Richmond, Massachussetts, said he wishes money spent on Neuticles was donated to animal shelters instead.  But some vets, like Becker, remain neutral.

"If it makes them have a closer relationship with their dog and take better care of him, I'm all for it," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


One-of-a-Kind Dog Walks with Four Prosthetic Paws

File photo. Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- Naki'o has the rambunctious spirit of most dogs -- he loves to run, jump and play fetch -- but one thing is different about this red heeler cattle dog: his four bionic paws. OrthoPets, a Denver company that specializes in pet prosthetics, outfitted Naki'o, who lost his paws to frostbite after he was abandoned in the Nebraska winter.

When Naki'o was adopted, his legs had healed to rounded stumps, making mobility a struggle. He had to crawl on his stomach to move, but he was determined.

"Even though he was hobbling, he was still just trying to enjoy life," said Martin Kaufmann, the founder of OrthoPets, who outfitted Naki'o with his new paws. "Naki'o's personality was great."

And it was that spirit that captivated his owner, a veterinary technician, to adopt him from a shelter and raise money for him to get two prosthetics.

Two became four when Kaufmann heard about Naki'o's plight and completed the set, making him, Kaufmann said, the first dog in the world to have four prosthetic paws.

Veterinarian Marty Becker said prosthetics are becoming increasingly common on disabled pets.

One prosthetic can cost anywhere form $1,000 to $3,000.

"It's really heartwarming," said Becker. "Dogs just soldier on. They could be in incredible pain but still greet you with their tail wagging."

Naki'o can now play fetch to his heart's content and enjoy his newfound mobility.

Kaufmann said Naki'o's only challenge would be learning once again what the ground feels like to walk on -- and he has no doubt Naki'o's playful spirit will help him adjust to his new paws.

"We get to work with patients with drive and determination," he said. "They have a real willingness to thrive."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio