Cassidy's New Leg

Cassidy fitted with his new hind leg just after surgery.

“Some dogs cannot tolerate amputation,” says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little, osseointegrated implant pioneer for dogs and cats missing a limb, and professor of orthopedics at the North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Marcellin-Little is conducting a new limb-sparing implants study to determine the feasibility of a novel limb-sparing implant for treating canine osteosarcoma (K9 OSA). He further explains, “current limb-sparing surgery, where the affected bone is replaced with a substitute bone or a metal limbspare implant, may involve complications.”

These complications can include infection, fracture, bone weakening (allograft resorption), implant failure and recurrence of the local tumor.

The most frequent bone tumor in dogs is osteosarcoma (OSA). It usually occurs in the front limb right above the wrist (distal radius). Standard treatment is to remove the tumor via amputation or limb-sparing surgery and then administer chemotherapy.

Dr. Marcellin-Little’s designs actually replace the leg with a prosthetic limb. He performed the world’s first osseointegrated implant surgery in 2005 on a cat named George Bailey. A dog called Cassidy followed shortly afterward.  Early in 2011, he performed the fifth such limb procedure, the first prosthetic for a front limb, for a Husky named Zeus.



The NC State study is to compare three new free-form limbspare implant designs against each other and against the traditional metal limbspare implant. The aim is to find out which design is biomechanically superior and best represents the properties of actual bone.

The study, followed by clinical trials, expects their progress to give many dogs a good quality of life while preserving their limbs. Insight gained medically and biotechnologically is hoped to benefit treatment of human osteosarcoma as well, the eighth most common childhood cancer.

The new limb-sparing implants study is funded, in part, by a grant from Bone Cancer Dogs Inc, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides information and owner resources for pet owners with dogs affected by bone cancer.

Filed under: Canine Osteosarcoma Mainstream Research

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