Dr Elge Bester and Dr Adriaan Kitshoff performing surgery on Theophylline the cat’s leg. Photo: Supplied by University of Pretoria
Dr Elge Bester and Dr Adriaan Kitshoff performing surgery on Theophylline the cat’s leg. Photo: Supplied by University of Pretoria

Veterinary surgeons perform SA’s first partial knee replacement on a cat

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Mar 2, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - Specialist veterinary surgeons at the University of Pretoria’s Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital have conducted South Africa’s first partial knee replacement on a cat, saving its right leg from being amputated.

Performed by Dr Elge Bester and Dr Adriaan Kitshoff, the procedure is not only a first for the 100-year-old-faculty and the hospital, but also for the country, the University of Pretoria said in a statement on Tuesday.

Their patient, domestic shorthair cat Theophylline, fell from the window of a second-storey building when she was six months old, resulting in a severe fracture of her right femur involving the knee joint.

The cat underwent multiple surgeries to try and reconstruct her femur and knee joint, but later developed a lateral patella luxation, where the kneecap moves out of the groove of the knee joint. A subsequent surgery to correct this was unsuccessful.

The two surgeons on her case investigated various options and concluded that a complex procedure called patellar groove replacement could potentially be used.

Companies SaSpine, which manufactures mostly implants and instrumentation for neurosurgery, and distributor StratCure agreed to custom make an artificial groove for the kneecap to glide in, which would be the first of its kind to be implanted in a cat in South Africa.

Theophylline the cat after surgery. Picture: Supplied by University of Pretoria

They used polyethylene, a medical-grade plastic used to manufacture joint replacement components for humans.

A few days ago, Kitshoff and Bester placed the new implant into Theophylline’s right femur, allowing the cat to finally flex and extend her knee without pain and abnormal movement of the kneecap.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to help patients with similar conditions to have a better quality and pain-free life,” the vets said after the successful procedure.

- African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa

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