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Feline First

A tough cancer survivor named Cyrano has undergone a pioneering joint replacement surgery at NC State, making him the first feline to receive an osseointegrated full knee implant.

The 10-year-old tabby cat was resting comfortably in the ICU following surgery Thursday, and he’s expected to go home in a few days. Cyrano was treated for bone cancer last year and is now in total remission. But the disease and radiation therapy weakened the bone in his affected back leg and knee, leaving him with limited mobility and chronic pain.

If all goes well, his new high-tech knee will change all that. His surgeon says he should be back on his feet in a week and back to normal cat activities within three months.

“This implant is as good as the implants used in human knee replacements,” says Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little, an orthopedic surgeon and professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “It works as well as a real joint.”

Cyrano’s implant is about the size of a tube of lip balm, but considerably more complex. Marcellin-Little worked with industrial and systems engineer Dr. Ola Harrysson and a multidisciplinary team of university and industry experts worldwide over six months to design, fabricate and finish the implant, made of cobalt chromium.

Cyrano’s owner, Sandy Lerner, brought the cat to NC State, hoping to avoid amputation. Marcellin-Little and Harrysson are pioneers in osseointegration, a process that fuses a prosthetic limb with an animal’s (or human’s) bones.

Cyrano’s case is unique, but Marcellin-Little hopes that this surgery will pave the way toward making feline knee replacements more commonly available.

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  1. I am currently the victim of failed right ankle replacement surgery performed on me in October 2013.
    After some months of a surgical wound that failed to heal, I was told by the surgeon that he was going to have to remove the device and accused me of having osteoporosis. I left his office and went to Charlotte Ortho for a second opinion. There , the failed device was removed and I was informed that I had MRSA and was a probable candidate for amputation. I fought off both and am currently under rehab treatment by an Orthopedic surgeon at Duke University. Is there any thought of doing something similar for humans as was done for Cyrano? I realize that a human ankle is very complex but if anyone is looking for a volunteer I would be the first to sign on.

    With thanks,
    John C. Beam
    PO Box 106
    Davidson, NC
    704 896 5742

  2. The Vet School never ceases to amaze me and they’ve done it again! I’m so happy for Cyrano and his owner…I could’ve done without the picture of him in surgery (I once had to put my cat down–I was with him–and it’s a painful memory.)

    The folks here do such great things…I know because one of the research vets at the school helped me determine would an FIV cat be too much financially for me to take on since they usually require a lot of medical care. She said she wouldn’t let that stop her from adopting this Siamese. Today, Sumari, my 8-yr. old Siamese FIV cat has lived with me for six years without any medical issues! That veterinarian saved one cat’s life without even picking up a scalpel! For that vet’s wisdom and knowledge I am truly thankful!

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