Anderson continued to experiment with a variety of materials until he discovered an unusual form of nylon monofilament, a solid material about the diameter of a coffee straw. But the question remained: Could this man-made material replace the natural ligament of a 1,500 pound animal?
On Jan. 17, Anderson replaced Wilhelmina's torn ligament with the artificial one, dubbed the "Wildcat Power Cord." Anderson's surgery team included surgery residents Drs. Kara Schulz and Jose Bras, intern Dr. Manuel Chamorro, along with anesthesiologists, veterinary students and technicians.
The next day, the Jersey cow was led across the hospital's video synchronization pressure mat to determine her level of lameness. "Her stride length had increased 30 percent, and she bore 25 percent more weight on her operated leg," Anderson said. "To have that much improvement is spectacular."
His long-term goal is to develop a replacement ligament strong enough for bulls. Lab tests reveal that the Wildcat Power Cord can withstand up to 12,000 newtons of pressure - roughly 50 percent more than an adult bull requires.
Wilhelmina retuned home and was kept in a box stall for a week or so, Mike Frey said. After that, she had the run of the free stall. "It's been a tough winter with all of the snow and ice," he said. "I didn't think she'd get around as good as she did."
Shelby Reinstein, a senior veterinary student from Tulsa, Okla., was one of the K-State students who worked with -- and named -- Wilhelmina the cow.
Reinstein said she appreciated the learning opportunities this case presented, especially those relative to anatomy of the stifle and monitoring Wilhelmina for specific conditions dairy cows are at risk for developing. These include inflammation of the udder (mastitis) or of the uterus (metritis), a metabolic imbalance (ketosis), ulcers and displacement of the abomasum, the fourth compartment
|Contact: David Anderson|
Kansas State University