At North Carolina’s State School of Veterinary Medicine, a prosthetic front paw implant was performed on a 5 year old Siberian Husky.
As a puppy, Zeus, the Husky, lost his paw when a female dog mauled him through his cage at the farm where he was bred. In spite of his problems, Zeus was adopted by a friend of the breeder, Sandy Vandall.
Zeus’s gait was odd because if the stump left by the mauling touched anything, it was extremely painful and often bled. Zeus also suffered a broken hip in the attack which was surgically repaired at NCSU. The paw transplant had to wait until Zeus’s bones matured.
This is the first time the surgery has been performed on a front paw. Since 2005, six other animals have had hind leg transplants.
The prosthetic paw was designed by Ola Harrysson, an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, working with Zeus’s surgeon Denis Marcellin-Little, an NCSU professor of veterinary orthodpedic surgery.
The prosthetic paw is made of titanium and is infused into the leg bone. The surgical team will also reconstruct tissue around the prosthesis. It is estimated that the surgery will take about 4 hours. Recovery is expected to take 10-12 weeks during which time Zeus may not run until the skin around the prosthesis is securely in place.
Owner Sandy Vandall plans on working with her mobile dog grooming business at night in order to care for Zeus. Her family will help with the care.
NC State is the only university in the world that manufactures and implants custom-made animal prosthetics.
Before Zeus was taken for pre-op preparation, Ms. Vandall taped a baby sock to Zeus’s stump over which she placed a thick paw protector as she has done for the last 5 years.
“Last time Buddy” she said. “Last time.”