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Bearded Collie gets knee replacement

A BEARDED Collie from Tyneside has undergone the first canine knee replacement operation to be carried out in the UK.

Grace, from Whitley Bay, struggled to walk because of crippling arthritis which has left her in constant pain. She was first diagnosed with arthritis three years ago when vets in the North East repaired ligaments in her hind legs.

Her vet prescribed tablets to sooth her joints but the medication aggravated an existing condition, colitis. The seven-year-old was referred to a specialist veterinary practice in Solihull, West Midlands where it was decided that she was a prime candidate for groundbreaking knee replacement surgery.

Her owners, Julie and John Parker were so desperate to give Grace a quality of life without constant pain that they didn't think twice about using cash they’d set aside for home improvements to help Grace instead.

The new canine treatment was introduced 18 months ago in the US but had never been performed in this country before. However, a specialist team at Willows Referral Service in Solihull undertook the procedure last Wednesday.

The team of vets opened up the knee in her rear left leg, removed damaged cartilage and inserted a metal and plastic prosthetic joint during the three-hour operation. One of the team had been trained the use the new knee replacement equipment whilst in America.
Hip replacement operations have been performed on dogs for many years and are relatively commonplace but no knee replacements have ever been carried out on dogs in the UK, according to a practice spokesman.

Orthopaedic veterinary surgeon Malcolm McKee said the three-hour operation had gone well.
Mr McKee said: ‘From a surgical point of view we are very pleased that we got the artificial knee implanted successfully. Grace recovered well from the anaesthetic. There were some nervous moments and there were times when there could have been problems. But, I'm glad to say everything went according to plan.

‘Before she was very immobile and in a lot of pain, but this should now give her five or seven years of good quality life.’

Within hours of her operation, Grace soon took her first steps with her new joint, and seemed to be quite at ease. Mrs Parker, 51 said: ‘It has been expensive but we had the money saved anyway for a new bathroom. Grace is more important to us than some new tiles and a shower.
‘We know it will take time for her to recover but I hope she'll soon be bounding around like a puppy.’

Orthopaedic veterinary surgeon Toby Gemmill, who helped to operate on Grace, said: ‘These techniques are extremely new and this sort of surgery has only been carried out 14 times in total.
‘The problem Grace had before was that she had worn a lot of the cartilage between the femur and tibia away so it was bone rubbing against bone. Now, there is a metal against plastic articulation which will remove the pain and help her move much more freely.’