Amputee cat gets bionic legs
LONDON (AFP) – A cat which lost both back paws after a traumatic accident involving a combine harvester has regained a spring in its step after being fitted with prosthetic limbs.
In a groundbreaking surgery carried out by Noel Fitzpatrick, a Surrey-based veterinary surgeon, the custom-made implants "peg" the ankle to Oscar's foot and mimic the way in which deer antler bone grows through skin.
The prosthetic legs, called intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics (Itaps) were developed by a team from University College London, led by Professor Gordon Blunn.
"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," Fitzpatrick said of the operation which took place last November.
"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," he added.
The veterinary surgical team took three hours to insert the pegs by drilling into one of the cat's ankle bones in each of the back legs.
The Itap technology has already been used to create a prosthetic for a woman who lost her arm in the July 2005 London bombings.
Oscar's recovery will feature as part of a six-part BBC One documentary series, The Bionic Vet, starting later this month.