Mary Sarah Bergh, DVM, first came across Vincent, a domestic shorthair, when he was just a kitten. He was brought to her by a student of the Iowa State University Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, where Dr. Bergh is an associate professor of orthopedic surgery. As a veterinary orthopedic surgeon, Bergh had worked with several injured species, and after attempting physical therapy with Vincent, she realized quickly that endoprosthetics was the best way to go to help the kitten.
Vincent’s “hind legs were missing below the midway point of his tibias,” according to Iowa State University, though Bergh was unable to determine the cause of the young cat’s condition. She did, however, move forward with helping the cat. Working with Biomedtrix, a veterinary orthopedics company that provided the essential materials for Vincent’s implants, Bergh was able to insert the implants into Vincent’s femur bones.
Bergh told Iowa State University that the “design of the implants allows for Vincent’s bone to grow onto the titanium shafts to support his weight… But the titanium shaft is exposed to the environment, which puts Vincent at risk for infection.” This risk means Vincent’s owner, Cindy Jones, must apply an antibiotic spray to his legs twice a day to prevent any infections.
Vincent first underwent surgery in February 2014 and then underwent another surgery this past February. He has also been undergoing treatments that will lengthen his prosthetics so that his gait will be normalized. Bergh says she anticipates “he’ll be jumping and doing really normal cat things very soon.” She added, “His bone is looking great. The implants are stable, and he’s walking really well on them. I couldn’t be happier with how he’s doing at the current time.”
Bergh believes that her experience with Vincent could help her as well as other veterinary orthopedic surgeons improve the future use of implants in animals, Iowa State University reports.