Duncan the miniature horse has undergone what is thought to be the world’s first successful total hip replacement in an equine. The surgery took place at the University of Liverpool.
Duncan was first admitted to Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital in July 2020 for investigation of a severe hind limb lameness.
A CT scan showed that the miniature horse had dislocated his left hip joint beyond repair.
Dave Stack, an equine surgical specialist, said that the treatment options were very limited, especially with the extensive damage on the femur.
After David Stack discussed with small animal surgical specialists, Professor Rob Pettitt and Andy Tomlinson, it was agreed the best option for Duncan was performing a total hip replacement.
Though the procedure had been performed on ponies before, it had never been successful. Careful preparation was needed to get the 187-pound gelding ready for the procedure.
Specialists in small animal and equine surgery, colleagues in anesthesia and internal medicine departments all came together for the revolutionary surgery.
Members of Liverpool’s Small Animal Teaching Hospital and the Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital were able to use implants that are designed for large dogs on Duncan. The difficult procedure proved to be a victory for the miniature horse.
“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”, said Equine Surgical Resident, Matthew Cullen.
“Despite that, he has made an excellent recovery and was able to walk and trot almost normally at his last check-up!” added Cullen.
To the delight of everyone, Duncan successfully recovered from his hip implant surgery. The mini spent more than three weeks at the hospital, where he received round-the-clock care.
As he became stronger, he was given physiotherapy with the help of Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapists Katie Meredith and Suzanne Cottriall.
“All staff at the equine hospital were involved in Duncan’s care at some stage of his treatment and it was a fantastic experience to work with the surgeons and nursing team from the Small Animal Teaching Hospital,” said Cullen.
“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,” stated Pettitt.
Thanks to all the hard work of the surgeons and veterinarian team, Duncan will be able to enjoy his life once more.
This groundbreaking surgery gives hope to other equines who may find themselves in the same predicament as Duncan.
“I would like to express my gratitude to all who contributed to the success of Duncan’s recovery, not least Rob Michael of Thompson House Equine Clinic, Duncan’s vet at home, whose care of him has been invaluable”.
David Stack went on to say “I am thrilled that Duncan will live a comfortable life and delighted that Duncan’s owners have the opportunity to continue to spoil him for many years to come”.