Mending dogs’ legs with bone regrowth technology

Five years ago, UC Davis veterinary oral surgeons started using a bone growth stimulator to regrow jawbones in dogs. To date, they have successfully regrown nearly three dozen jawbones. Now, that technology has made its way to orthopaedic surgery, and is being utilised to repair bone injuries in dogs’ legs.

In a recently published paper, Dr Amy Kapatkin, chief of the UC Davis’ Orthopaedic Surgery Service, and colleagues, discuss the specifics of the 11 cases to date treated with this procedure, with nine returning to full function and two with acceptable function.

All 11 cases involved dogs with nonunion fractures in their limbs, ‘nonunion’ meaning that previous attempts to repair their breaks failed to unite the bone as one again. All dogs had at least one previous surgery, while some had as many as five previous attempts to heal their bone properly.

While not all regrowth surgeries are the same, the basic premise of the procedure is to place a scaffold—called a compression resistant matrix (CRM)—saturated with a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) into the bone defect in hopes of stimulating additional bone growth from the surrounding, healthy native bone.

In these cases, the use of CRM and BMP specifically targeted areas of persistent bone defect after at least one failed surgery.

Formerly, the only other option was to try to set the break again in the same fashion with the dog’s own graft, which in many cases, carries the same potential fail rate due to a lack of blood supply to the bone.

“Nonunion after long-bone fracture repair in dogs represents a potentially devastating complication,” said Dr Kapatkin.

“We are excited about this new treatment, and are optimistic that our use in orthopaedics can have the same long-term positive results our oral surgeons have seen with jawbones.”

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