Groundbreaking ankle replacement surgery at one of the UK’s top animal hospitals has put a spring back in the step of a young rottweiler.

Eighteen-month-old Oakey was suffering from a severe case of osteochondrosis of the talus, which was making him lame in his right hind leg, when he was referred to Linnaeus small animal hospital Wear Referrals, in Bradbury, County Durham.

Neil Burton, an RCVS-recognised specialist in small animal surgery and head of orthopaedics at Wear, together with colleague Maciej Krukowski, a certificate holder in small animal surgery, were the first surgeons in the UK to perform a BioMedtrix canine ankle replacement in 2019.

Having confirmed Oakey’s condition, Neil said Oakey was a perfect candidate for the groundbreaking ankle replacement surgery.

He said: “This kind of operation is very uncommon at the moment, and it is only available at a select number of hospitals worldwide.

“We are one of only three hospitals in the UK trialing this joint replacement system as part of a worldwide phase two clinical trial to collect more information on outcomes following this procedure.

“The operation involves opening the ankle joint and using prototype instrumentation to remove the damaged cartilage from the joint after which the ankle replacement cartridge is placed into the joint to resurface it.

“Having a new joint surface makes the joint more comfortable and improves the lameness that was associated with the osteoarthritis that was present.”

After performing the intricate and pioneering operation, Oakey was hospitalised for a few days post-operatively where he then appeared in BBC TV show Night Force, which was filming at the animal hospital to focus on night-time workers – before being discharged back to his grateful family.

Devoted owner Gemma Peck, from Chelmsford, in Essex, completed a nine-hour, 500-mile round trip to get her beloved pet the latest specialist treatment and was quick to praise Neil, who has recently been accepted into the Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for his meritorious contributions to clinical practice.

Gemma said: “In the first instance, our vets in Essex had sent Oakey to specialists near Cambridge for treatment. They told us Wear Referrals was the best hospital in the country to perform this type of ankle replacement surgery.

“Wear is nearly a five-hour drive from Chelmsford, and a 500-mile round trip, but having tragically lost three rottweilers in the last eight years, we were feeling very low and disheartened and only wanted the very best treatment for Oakey.

“That’s certainly what we got. Oakey was treated fantastically by everyone at Wear. Neil was fabulous and all the staff were excellent and very kind, so we really appreciate the care they all took to look after Oakey.

A six-month period of careful rehabilitation and recuperation has helped Oakey bounce back successfully, with Gemma adding: “He is two years old now and doing very well now after going through a strict recovery plan.

“He spent the first six weeks after surgery confined to his crate and only going out for the toilet, when he was always kept on a lead. There was also a carefully controlled exercise plan which started off at a low level and built up gradually week by week.”

As well as industry-leading orthopaedics, Wear provides expert care in neurology, internal medicine, soft tissue surgery, cardiology and diagnostic imaging.

For more information on Wear Referrals, visit or search for Wear Referrals on social media.

Back to news