Wilbur is a happy, affectionate Golden Retriever mix who never walks anywhere, he trots. His favorite activities include running with mom at the track, taking a sniffing adventure with his sister Pork Chop, and keeping an eye peeled for the neighborhood cat. Wilbur is now living his best life thanks to the skilled doctors and staff at the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
When Wilbur was just a puppy, he was diagnosed with an abnormal growth of cartilage in his shoulder, and referred to OSU for surgery. Dr. Jennifer Warnock, a professor and orthopedic surgeon, successfully removed the diseased cartilage and Wilbur’s shoulder got better. At the same time, Dr. Warnock discovered that Wilbur had hip dysplasia, a joint deformity common in some dog breeds. She recommended non-invasive treatments to strengthen his hips and minimize pain.
Over the next eight years, Wilbur’s mom, Debbie Franke, took good care of him, including regular physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory drugs, but eventually his hip dysplasia got worse. “His trot was painful, more like a bunny hop,” says Franke. This summer, she brought Wilbur back to OSU for a total replacement of his right hip.
Joint replacements in dogs are very similar to those done in human medicine, where the bad joint is sawed off and an artificial titanium joint is attached to the end of the bone. At OSU, Dr. Jeff Biskup is the expert on joint replacement and was the lead surgeon on Wilbur’s case. “Based on Wilbur’s radiographs and overall health, we elected to use non-cemented implants that are formed so the bone will grow into it and anchor it in place,” says Dr. Biskup. “This carries a lower risk of infection and loosening.”
Fourth-year student Brendan Doiran was assigned to Wilbur’s case. He was responsible for Wilbur’s daily care, from admission to discharge, and collaborated with doctors on a treatment plan. He also assisted Drs. Biskup and Cortes with the surgery.
“It was an incredible experience,” says Doiran. “Any surgery is complex, but orthopedics has another level of difficulty. It is one part medicine, and one part structural engineering.”
Wilbur’s surgery took five hours. “The doctors constantly measured and repositioned to make sure the components lined up perfectly. It was a very slow and thorough process,” says Doiran.
The operation went well, and Wilbur was up and walking soon after the anesthesia wore off. “The implant is stable enough to walk on immediately after surgery,” says Dr. Biskup, “but the dog’s activity must be restricted for three months while the bone grows into the implant.”
That was the hard part for Debbie Franke. “Wilbur is a very active dog. Keeping him at a slow walk, preventing him from playing with his sibling, and keeping him in his crate was really challenging.”
Franke did a good job managing Wilbur’s recovery and he is now back to his happy, active self. “Twice as active and twice as happy,” says Franke. “It’s like he has a peaceful spirit about him that I think comes from the absence of so much pain.”
When Wilbur came into the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for his three-month checkup, Doiran happened to be on a cardiology rotation and they were able to have a brief reunion. “It was astonishing to see how well he’s doing with that new hip,” says Doran. “It speaks volumes to the proficiency and skill of the surgeons. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to take part in it. It’s a great feeling to know we made a big difference in Wilbur’s life.”