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Prosthetic Limbs for Dogs and Cats

Learn about osseointegrated implants to help pets walk using prosthetic limbs

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Bailey the first cat to receive a prosthetic limb / NC State Veterinary College

George Bailey - the first cat to receive a prosthetic limb

NC State Veterinary College
I blogged about Oscar, a two-year old cat fitted with two artificial legs. Oscar's story began in the UK as a cat who lost both hind limbs in an accident with a field combine. Veterinary surgeons implanted metal rods in the remaining leg bones to affix artificial feet so that Oscar can walk and lead a relatively normal life.

This news is interesting to me because it not like a traditional prosthetic that straps to a remaining limb stump; it is a rod that is inserted into bone with skin growing around it (to prevent infection). This technology allows for ease of use and mobility for pets who have lost their limb(s) to cancer, accidents or, as in the case of George Bailey the cat, born without limbs.

The UK Mail Online story mentions that the Intraosteous Transcutaneous Amputation Prosthesis (ITAP) was developed by Professor Gordon Blunn and his team at University College London in 2006.

After blogging about this story, I was contacted by Dave Green, Director of Communications for the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University to highlight their work with artificial limbs for animals. Mr. Green emailed to clarify a few points about the technique development and its use in pets.

Here are Mr. Green's comments, reprinted with his permission:

The first successful osseointegrated (live bone growing into a surgical implant) prosthetic limb with a cat was accomplished in March of 2005 by Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine with the cat George Bailey.

Dr. Marcellin, a professor of orthopedics, and Dr. Ola Harrysson, an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at NC State, developed a pioneering "rapid prototyping" process to aid in the development and customization of missing limbs and the creation of titanium implants that fuses living bone with specially designed prosthetic limbs.

Since George Bailey, the team has successfully completed with process with another cat - Mr. Franz - and with several dogs, including Cassidy. All engineering, 3-D prototyping, custom computer-generated implantable body parts, surgery, and follow-up medical monitoring on the four patients has been completed at NC State. Yet another surgery is planned later this summer (2010).

Mr. Green also provided additional resource information about Bailey's case:

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