Wood River Valley veterinarian Randy Acker and mechanical and biomedical engineer Greg Van Der Meulen have teamed up to develop and surgically implant a replacement ankle in a dog.
“We have done two so far,” Van Der Meulen told the Idaho Mountain Express. He works for BioMedtrix, a New Jersey company and leader in joint replacement design, which patented and licenses his products.
Acker is a veterinarian at the Sun Valley Animal Center, which specializes in canine orthopedics. In 1991, he performed his first canine hip replacement surgery on a German shepherd. The operation was a success.
Several years ago Acker and Van Der Meulen designed a new type of prosthetic canine elbow which was implanted in Acker’s own yellow Labrador Retriever, Tate.
“We work together on design concepts and their implementation. I engineer the device and Randy surgically implants them,” said Van Der Meulen.
Unlike most prostheses, which use stemmed cemented components, Van Der Meulen’s products are “resurfacing prosthetics,” which require less-invasive surgical techniques.
The BioMedtrix website says, “The purpose of the TATE procedure is to mimic the fundamental motions of the elbow and eliminate the pain associated with end-stage osteoarthritis of the joint. The prosthesis is designed to replicate the joint articular surfaces accurately after these have been carefully removed.”
Canine replacement BioMedtrix elbows are now a standard item. About 250 pets worldwide have received their canine elbow implants.
The new ankle transplants, designed by Van Der Meulen and implanted by Acker, are for now a custom-designed product.
The surgical ankle procedure is still in an experimental and developmental stage. The estimated cost per implant will be between $3,500 and $4,500.
Daisy, an 8-year-old Labrador is currently under observation to measure the success of the implant.
Article and image source: Idaho Mountain Express