Ivainashe Nyamutsamba
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UP’s Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital (OVAH) performed its first successful intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthesis (ITAP). An ITAP is a prosthesis used in cases of limb amputation to allow the attachment of an exoprosthesis that replaces the lost limb. According to UP’s website, the ITAP surgery was performed on a young three-year-old Rottweiler called Covid. This is the first known successful ITAP surgery in South Africa. 

The groundbreaking prosthetic surgery made the pooch mobile. Furthermore, the artificial foot Covid the Rottweiler received from the surgeons has aided in improving his quality of life. The pioneering medical feat was led by Dr Klaas-Jan van de Wetering. Covid was admitted to the OVAH with a serious enfeebling injury to his right paw. Despite suffering from a life-threatening injury, Covid exhibited constrained blood flow which revealed to the surgeons that amputation on Covid would be achievable.

The ITAP surgery started with the creation and printing of a prosthetic implant that integrates with the amputated limb, paving the way for the attachment of an artificial foot. The process started with an implant being placed in the dog’s bone and exiting the skin where a prosthetic foot could be attached. The team at OVAH worked closely with the orthopaedics company Orthodesign, which assisted with the specifications to create a custom prosthetic foot. A 3D implant was initially printed in plastic, after which a 3D-printed implant of titanium was made for Covid.

The successful, groundbreaking surgery has elevated the ever-growing portfolio of excellence for the University of Pretoria. Furthermore, this procedure has further affirmed the respect that UP has earned over time as a research-intensive institution. Dr Van de Wetering and his team’s pioneering feat has brought together disciplines from various fields of study and expertise such as the biomechanical engineering field, nursing, and anaesthesiology. UP’s Renaissance trajectory has paved the way for UP ’s Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital to make history.