Mitzi the bionic dog is back on her feet after becoming the first dog in the world to be fitted with a pioneering prosthetic ankle.
The three-year-old German Shepherd had her rear right foot amputated after she was trampled by a horse.
But the lively dog is back to enjoying walks with her owner after being fitted with an artificial foot and ankle by pioneering vet Dr Noel Fitzpatrick.
The prosthesis is the first in the world to have been inserted into a fully moving bone and allows Mitzi to walk with a normal gait and no limp.
Mitzi’s owner Viv Davis, from Dorchester, Dorset, was desperate to find a way to give her pet a better quality of life after she lost her hind foot.
She said: ”The options were three legs, euthanasia, or give her a chance to walk. We had to give her a chance to walk.”
Dr Fitzpatrick, from Godalming, Surrey, added that the implant proved a success when Mitzi was taken off her lead for the first time on Thursday.
He said: ”There was always a risk that the exoprosthesis could actually break when Mitzi ran off her lead so this truly was a nail biting moment for me and for the design team as it could have failed spectacularly.
”Mitzi is walking with an entirely normal gait, with her foot moving exactly the way it should and today marks day one of Mitzi’s return to living life like a normal dog.
”It’s a permanent fixture, it is part of the dog’s body. The dog just gets on with life. Before ITAP came into being there was no way to give an animal a prosthesis.
”This has implications not only for animals but for human amputees in the future.
”If what I do helping patients in their needs, helps other patients that are animals, or human, excellent. I think it is the future.”
Dr Fitzpatrick operated on Mitzi to insert a titanium rod into her leg leaving her with a ”peg” to which a prosthesis could be attached.
Her new titanium foot screws onto the peg and allows her to walk and run once again – something her owner never thought possible.
Mitzi’s new foot was designed using computer modelling based on her gait so that it would absorb shock and to prevent it from snapping off.
The implant attaches to bone at the site of the amputation and protrudes through the skin like deer antlers so that a prosthesis can be attached.
The technology, which is now being used for humans, allows the skin to integrate with the implant and create a barrier to infection.
It has already been used to create a prosthetic for a woman who lost her arm in the July 2005 London bombings.
Dr Fitzpatrick was the first vet in the world to offer prosthetic limbs to pets using Intraosseous Transcutaneous Amputation Prosthesis (ITAP) technology.
It was developed by Professor Gordon Blunn, Head of Centre for Bio-Medical Engineering at University College London.
He said: ”Humans and other animals share a large number of degenerative musculo-skeletal conditions.
”The repair process of the musculoskeletal system is essentially the same whether in a dog, cat or human being.
”Treating Mitzi with an ITAP device has proved to be beneficial and the information learned from this case has been directly applied to human surgery.”
Mitzi’s implant is made from titanium alloy coated with hydroxyapatite which helps it to attach to her bone.
Last year Dr Fitzpatrick fitted Oscar the cat with a set of bionic back paws making him the first pet with a double set of artificial limbs.
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