The Bionic Cat

A cat in England met with a terrible accident when his legs were severed by a combine harvester while he was dozing in the sun.

Oscar’s local vet in Jersey referred him to Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick in Surrey after the accident last October.

Dr. Fitzpatrick, a veterinary surgeon, implanted two prosthetic limbs in an operation that is the first of its kind in the world.

The new feet are custom made and “peg” the ankle to the foot. They are bioengineered to mimic deer antler bone which grows through the skin.

The prosthetic pegs are called Itaps (intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics). They were developed by a team from University College London. The team leader is Professor Gordon Blunn whio is head of ULC’s Center for Biomedical Engineering.

Professor Blunn and his team have worked closely with Dr. Fitzpatrick in developing these weight-bearing implants, combining mechanical engineering with biology.

Dr. Fitzpatrick said, “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 seesaw on the bottom of an animal’s limbs to give him effectively normal gait.”

The Itap technology has already been used to create a prosthetic for a woman who lost her arm in the July 2005 London bombings.

BBC News quoted Professor Blunn as saying, “the intriguing thing with Oscar was that he had two implants – one in each back leg and in quite an unusual site.”

Professor Blunn said success of this operation showed the potential of the technology.

The Itap technology is being further tested in humans.

Fitzpatrick’s work will be explored in a BBC 6 part documentary titled “The Bionic Vet.”

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