Veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick, a pioneer of prosthetic implants, has launched what is being billed as Europe's most advanced neuro-orthopaedic centre for dogs and cats.

Fitzpatrick Referrals' £10m facilities at Eashing, near Godalming, Surrey, have been set up to offer a world-class "centre of excellence" in diagnosis, surgery and rehabilitation.

Facilities at the centre include:

  • a closed-field Siemens Symphony MRI scanner, which can provide ultra-clear images of bone, spine, brain and soft tissue to enable rapid and accurate diagnosis of routine problems such as slipped discs as well as potentially life-threatening conditions such as tumours.
  • a specially fitted-out physiotherapy suite and a hydrotherapy pool to facilitate patients' rehabilitation and recovery.
  • a new conference facility which combines a cinema-style environment with a real-time interactive forum for the exchange of medical innovation between universities and centres of excellence worldwide.

Noel was the first veterinary surgeon to successfully apply a prosthetic limb to a dog where both bone and skin can grow into metal - a technique with far-reaching cross-over potential for human surgery. He believes in "pushing the boundaries" and creating solutions for conditions that may never have previously been treatable, and says the work being done at Eashing also provides valuable experience for medical science as a whole. Examples include cartilage resurfacing, limb-sparing cancer surgery and spinal vertebral fusion.

Professor Gordon Blunn of the Centre for Biomedical Engineering, Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculo-Skeletal Science at University College London said: "Orthopaedic conditions and diseases are common to both human beings and to animals. For example osteoarthritis is debilitating condition seen in humans, cats and dogs. Bone cancer which can lead to loss of life in humans and is usually associated with the peripheral skeleton is also seen in the peripheral skeleton of large dog breeds. Translation of ideas, orthopaedic practice and treatments, from humans to the veterinary field and visa versa has considerable advantages to all animals including dogs, cats and man. Noel Fitzpatrick is pioneering this concept and his work in limb reconstruction for dogs and cats has already had benefits in both veterinary and human orthopaedic practice."

DJ Chris Evans is one satisfied client. His dog, Enzo, a German Shepherd, was "written off" by other vets after becoming paralysed with two herniated discs. Noel fitted Enzo with two bolts to replace the collapsed disc and keep the vertebrae apart. The surgery was followed by extensive physiotherapy and hydrotherapy to enable Enzo to learn to walk again.

Chris said: "Noel lives out his dreams with boundless curiosity, ambition and genius, the product of which is hundreds, soon to be thousands, of fixed pets and happy owners - like me. I have huge respect for his endeavour, his integrity and his compassion and to me he's a superhero-vetman who will leave no stone unturned in his quest to heal, to create and to comfort. He thinks of solutions to medical problems that I'm sure no-one else could even dream of, let alone think of. Actually - I don't think he ever sleeps!"