UCL News


World first for veterinary science designed at UCL

9 June 2010


X-ray of Roly's implant ucl.ac.uk/surgicalscience/departments_research/ioms" target="_self">UCL's Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculokeletal Science
  • Fitzpatrick Referrals
  • UCL's expertise in biomedical engineering has underpinned a world first in veterinary science that may have major implications for human medicine.

    Scientists at UCL's Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculokeletal Science (IOMS) helped design a unique implant for a dog suffering from cancer.

    Roly, an eight-year-old American bulldog, received the replacement for a cancerous bone in his rear hind leg just nine weeks ago, but he is already able to walk again.

    The implant - the result of three years of research - mirrors Roly's original femur and allow tendons to 'grow' into metal, restoring total mobility and function.

    It was designed by Professor Gordon Blunn, head of the Centre for Biomedical Engineering at IOMS, in collaboration with leading neuro-orthopaedic veterinary surgeon Dr Noel Fitzpatrick, and specialist implant manufacturer OrthoFitz.

    Dr Fitzpatrick performed the operation in March, removing the femur and hip joint, implanting the prosthesis, and reattaching the musculature in a complex two-hour procedure.

    Its success has implications for human accident victims whose recovery involves successfully reattaching tendons to bone, such as tennis or cricket players with ruptured tendons in the shoulders.

    Professor Blunn said: "What is significant about the design is the way in which it sandwiches tissue and metal together, overlaying the gluteal muscles on to the top of the endoprosthetic femur - alternating tendon, synthetic Dacron mesh, tendon, synthetic Dacron mesh, tendon and finally trabecular metal - which has a honeycomb surface resembling a series of small chambers.

    "In this way, the hope is that the Sharpeys fibres which attach tendons of muscles to the bone will grow into the trabecular metal surface and permanently adhere to it."

    Dr Fitzpatrick added: "This truly remarkable achievement was made possible through the convergence of biomechanics, biology and surgical innovation."

    For more information about IOMS, follow the link above.

    Image: An X-ray of Roly's leg showing the metal implant

    UCL context

    IOMS has an international reputation for translational research in orthopaedics, and its research themes embrace osteoporosis, bone tumour biology, joint replacement, tissue engineering, performance/ rehabilitation, peripheral nerve and spinal injury.

    Fitzpatrick Referrals is a leading veterinary referral practice in Surrey that specialises in small animal orthopaedics and neuro-surgery.

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