Animals mean everything to Sue, especially the animal family she spends her life with at her home in Yorkshire. Sue brings her 10-year-old Collie Zak to Fitzpatrick Referrals to find out if Professor Noel Fitzpatrick can give Zak the pain free life he deserves.  Medication has allowed Zak to live with hip dysplasia his whole life, but in recent months things have taken a turn for the worse and he is struggling.

Upon examination, Noel identifies that Zak has severe hip arthritis, which is so bad that he tries to push all of his weight forwards onto his front legs rather than using his painful back legs.  This has caused severe muscle wastage around Zaks back legs, especially on the left.  Zak’s hip arthritis is confirmed with imaging that reveals significant inflammation of the soft tissue around his hip joints. Zak also underwent an MRI scan of his spine to make sure that there weren’t any other problems attributed to his lower back pain, fortunately, his spine was alright.  However, to live a pain free life Zak will require not one, but two total hip replacements.

It is an anxious time for Sue who has never spent a day apart from her best friend, and can’t even bring herself to leave Zak at the practice to go to her hotel room and waits in the car park to hear news of his first operation.

This is a routine operation for Noel and his team, which involves replacing the entire hip joint with permanent implants.  Firstly, Noel will manually dislocate the hip joint and remove the diseased femoral head from the top of the femur.  Next, Noel will drill into the acetabulum (also known as the “socket” part of the pelvis) with a specially-designed drill with half a sphere on the end to create a perfectly round hole and resurface this using a “cup” implant.  After this Noel moves onto the femur, he drills down into the femur and creates a space into which the “stem” can be positioned to replace the top of the femur removed at the start and secures

it with a special bone cement.  On top of this sits the femoral head (also known as the “ball”).  Once the cement has set solid the hip joint can be carefully relocated.

Find out more about this procedure on the Fitzpatrick Referrals website:

After the operation, Noel goes to see Sue and shows her the post-operative images of Zak’s new hip, and reassures her that Zak is doing well.

Zak goes home to rest after 2 days to allow the first new joint to strengthen so the second can be done in 2 weeks’ time.

When they return for the 2nd hip Sue again decides to stay around and sleep in the car. She just can’t bear to leave him or him think she has abandoned him and wants him to know she is close by.

The operation is once again a success and 2 days later they return to North Yorkshire where Zak remains her constant companion, out of pain, and enjoying life together to the full!