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 Infection-Proof Prosthetic Paw

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Date posted: 24/07/2007

A Belgian German Shepard dog called Storm, has become the first person to be fitted with a prosthetic implant made of technology derived from pioneering work last year at University College London.

The technology is based off of deer antlers, which fit into the bone and stick through the skin with no risk of infection to the animal. It is obviously desirable to recreate that with prosthetics.

Last year, Dr Paul Unwin, managing director of Stanmore Implants Worldwide, a medical devices company that worked in collaborated with the scientists, said: "The mobility of tissue is a big factor; you don't want the tissue to rip away from the piece of metal, so you need a structure under the skin that will allow the dermal tissues to attach into the metal.

"What we had seen in the deer antlers was that it is very much to do with the structure and shape of the bone, and the porosity of the bone.

"The tissue attaches in with long fibres, and it is like anchors attaching directly into it."

Now, Storm marks the first successful application in a living creature.

The implant is sealed fully into Storm's body (Credit: BBC)

Storm had his paw partially amputated after being detected with an aggressive form of cancer in his foot. Storm, who lives in Oxshott, Surrey, UK, had to have the lower portion of his foreleg removed when it became infected with an aggressive tumour earlier this year. Rather than have him put down, his family opted for amputation.

"The miraculous thing for Storm is that the bone has grown into the metal, and the skin has grown into the metal, so now he has a resilient seal which cannot break down and he cannot get infected through it. That's been the holy grail of amputee research for years." said vet Noel Fitzpatrick of Farnam, Surrey, who performed the surgery. "Because it has been implanted into the radius of the forearm of the dog, it will act as a model for human amputees in the future and provides hope for people without feet or hands."

The implant, made of titanium alloy, is fixed to the main bone of Storm's foreleg. A plug-in carbon-fibre prosthetic paw is inserted into the implant, so if the replacement foot does break at any time, it can simply be unscrewed and a new one screwed in. No pain for the dog, very low cost for the owners.

See the full Story via external site: news.bbc.co.uk

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