A miniature horse called Duncan has made an “excellent” recovery from what is believed to be the first successful equine total hip replacement.
The 85kg stallion spent three weeks in the Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital, at the University of Liverpool, this summer, but at his most recent check, was walking and trotting “almost normally”.
A spokesman for the university said Duncan came into the clinic in July with severe hind-limb lameness.
A CT scan showed he had dislocated his left hip, and sustained “irreparable” damage to the joint.
“Treatment options for this problem are very limited, especially with extensive damage to the head of the femur,” said equine surgical specialist Dave Stack.
“I discussed Duncan’s predicament with two small animal surgical specialists, Rob Pettitt and Andy Tomlinson, who agreed that performing a total hip replacement offered Duncan the best chance for recovery.”
All known previous attempts at the procedure, in small ponies, had failed, the spokesman said, adding: “The surgery required careful preparation and the combined knowledge of specialists in both small animal and equine surgery, as well as colleagues from the anaesthesia and internal medicine departments.”
The teams replaced Duncan’s hip with implants designed for large dogs.
Equine surgical resident Matthew Cullen said: “Although always complex, hip replacements are relatively common in dogs, so the experience of the small animal surgeons was absolutely vital as Duncan presented a highly unique challenge. Despite that he has made an excellent recovery and was able to walk and trot almost normally at his last check-up!”
Duncan had 24-hour supervision in the first few days after his operation, and he has since undergone physiotherapy as a major component of his recovery.
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Rob Pettitt, professor of small animal orthopaedics at the university’s small animal teaching hospital, said: “The opportunity to provide Duncan with a normal life using a procedure that we perform regularly in dogs but that has never been successful longer term in equids was a unique experience. Our role as surgeons was just a small part of the huge teamwork that has resulted in this successful outcome.”
Mr Stack thanked all those who contributed to Duncan’s recovery, “not least Rob Michael of Thompson House Equine Clinic, Duncan’s vet at home, whose care of him has been invaluable”.
He added: “I am thrilled that Duncan will live a comfortable life and delighted his owners have the opportunity to continue to spoil him for many years to come.”
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