Meet Mr. Cyrano L. Catte II, a tubby 20-pound tabby cat from Upperville, Virginia. Last year, Cyrano underwent cancer treatment on his rear leg at Colorado State University. While the cancer was in remission, it left Cyrano’s hind leg useless and painful. Because of Cyrano’s weight, amputation was out of the question, so veterinarians at North Caroline State University’s vets had to find an alternative solution to help ease Cyrano’s discomfort.
Last week Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little performed a six-and-a-half hour procedure that allowed Cyrano to be the first cat to have a successful feline total knee replacement in the US.
Britain’s Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick was credited with the world’s first feline total knee replacement in 2009 on a cat whose leg was crushed by a car, but Cyrano’s surgeon Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little, a French-born physician, says Cyrano’s implant is certainly the most complex implant anyone at NCSU’s has built for this type of procedure.
Marcellin-Little and NCSU engineer Ola Harrysson are pioneers in a process known as osseointegration, which fuses a prosthetic limb with living bone. Cyrano’s artificial knee was fabricated using a laser process that hardens metal powder to replicate his bones. The implant is the result of more than a dozen people working diligently to develop and test the implant. Marcellin-Little practiced the replacement procedure four times on plastic models prior to operating on the cat. Everything went well and Cyrano is on the road to recovery, but Marcellin-Little expects Cyrano to take it easy for the next three months.
Cyrano’s people parents Sandra Lerner and Len Bosack were exhausted, but relieved, despite the cost—around $20,000. In a WashingtonPost.com article, Lerner stated that it was worth every penny.
“He’s my child. And if it were your child, would you begrudge the money?” she said. “I have a personal philosophy that people are, at best, equal with the other inhabitants of the planet. And I’m very, very grateful that I have the money and (am) able to do it.”