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Wear Referrals carries out first commercial ankle replacement for dogs

Referral centre and animal hospital, Wear Referrals has announced it carried out the UK’s first commercial ankle replacement for dogs and is now championing the new procedure.

Wear Referrals, which is part of the Linnaeus Group and based in Stockton-on-Tees, carried out the inaugural operation and is one of only three clinics in the UK to have been chosen by American company BioMedtrix for a prospective clinical trial of their new canine ankle replacement system.

Vinny, a three-year-old chocolate Labrador, was the recipient and is said to be recovering well after becoming the first dog in the country to benefit from the state-of-the-art technique.

Neil Burton, a specialist in small animal surgery and head of orthopaedic surgery at Wear Referrals, said: “This was the first case of a BioMedtrix ankle replacement in the UK and we are delighted on two fronts.

“First of all, the operation went very well and Vinny is doing excellently at the two-month post-operative stage. He’s off all medication, is walking well, there are no issues with the implants and the bone is healing uneventfully. We are also thrilled to be able to fly the flag as the first veterinary specialists in the country to undertake this surgical procedure.”

Burton was assisted during the three-hour operation by Wear’s senior orthopaedic surgeon Maciej Krukowski, as the pair used the specialist prototype instrumentation to remove the damaged cartilage and bone in the joint, which was then replaced with the implant.

Vinny’s owner Ben Reyer, from Redcar, in North Yorkshire, admitted it was a “leap of faith” to embrace the pioneering surgery but said: “Neil was very open and honest that this was the first operation of its type in the UK.

“He talked us through the whole procedure, what the outcome would likely be and, after talking it through, we felt pretty confident in him and the BioMedtrix system, so were happy to go for it. The operation went as planned and Vinny’s doing well. He’s had his post-op check and everything is progressing as expected. It’s a very careful recovery process, though. We’re not taking any chances and we are doing everything absolutely to the letter.”

He added: “Vinny had to have six weeks’ cage rest, which was hard as you can’t explain to a dog why he is being locked up. At the moment, he is restricted to just having short walks on the lead. But everything is looking good and I can’t wait to be able to let him off the lead in a few weeks for him to have a good walk in the woods or a run on the beach.”

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