A cat that had its back feet severed by a combine harvester has been given two prosthetic limbs in a pioneering operation by a UK vet. The custom-made implants that "peg" the ankle to the foot are bio-engineered to mimic the way deer antler bone grows through the skin.

The ground breaking operation was carried out by veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick. The cat, named Oscar, was struck by the combine harvester whilst dozing in the sun.

The prosthetic pegs, called intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics (Itaps) were developed by a team from University College London led by Professor Gordon Blunn, who is head of UCL's Centre for Biomedical Engineering.

Professor Blunn and his team have worked in partnership with Mr Fitzpatrick to develop these weight-bearing implants, combining engineering mechanics with biology. Mr Fitzpatrick explained: "The real revolution with Oscar is that we have put a piece of metal and a flange into which skin grows into an extremely tight bone."

"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 see-saw on the bottom of an animal's limbs to give him effectively normal gait."

Professor Blunn told BBC News the idea was initially developed for patients with amputations who have a stump socket. "This means they fix their artificial limb with a sock, which fits over the stump. In a lot of cases this is successful, but you [often] get rubbing and pressure sores."

It remains to be seen what the psychological ramifications of having bambi-style prosthetics will be for Oscar.

Via: BBC News.

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