01 December 2008

Dog's Artificial Elbow Surgery Has Potential for Humans

Jake the dog is somewhat of a celebrity in the veterinary world. The 11-year-old yellow Labrador retriever of Grand Rapids was the first dog in the Midwest and only the 11th in the world to get a new type of elbow prosthesis that reduces infection and wear and tear - and that eventually could be used in humans. The $5,000 surgery was performed at the Michigan State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital last spring.

Now, after six months of rehabilitation that includes running on an underwater treadmill, Jake is giving high fives, jumping off the bed and going without his leash. "He's actually acting like he's a younger dog again, which is so cool," owner Sue Falk said. "He's just more playful and not as concerned about each step." Jake's turnaround is a dramatic difference from several years ago, when he had a bad limp and refused to go on daily walks in the woods behind Falk's home.

"We are very happy with Jake because, with other dogs, the recovery has not been as fast," said MSU Dr. Loic Dejardin, who performed the four-hour surgery in April. In the six months since getting his new elbow, Jake has undergone extensive physical rehabilitation. In addition to running on an underwater treadmill, Jake has been navigating obstacle courses and doing home exercises with Falk.

Since Jake received the elbow, Dejardin has performed similar surgeries on four other dogs at MSU and will fly to Canada soon to perform another. Dejardin said the elbow - which became available in March - has worked so well in dogs that it is being considered for use in ankle replacements in people. "If it happens, that would be the first time that we know of an implant designed with a dog in mind having an application in humans," Dejardin said.

[Source: Mlive.com]