Lion’s dental surgery is a world first for SAFIRA anaesthetic device
A lion at Five Sisters Zoo in Scotland has become the first animal in the world to have dental surgery using the medical device SAFIRA, pioneered by Milton-based medical device development company Medovate.
The SAFIRA device used in the dental surgery at West Calder was developed by four consultant anaesthetists at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King’s Lynn in Norfolk.
The NHS clinicians worked with Medovate to bring the device to market in a bid to make regional anaesthesia more autonomous for clinicians and safer for patients.
SAFIRA has been designed to help deliver a slow, controlled release of anaesthesia which supports visualisation of anaesthetic spread. This can support less anaesthetic being used to achieve the desired result.
Susan Thorne, clinical director of DentalVets, carried out the root canal procedure on the lion, who had two teeth extractions.
Speaking after the procedure, Susan said: “The SAFIRA system was very simple and easy to use and allowed me to accurately place my oral blocks.”
Most regional anaesthesia procedures involve two operators, including an assistant who injects the anaesthetic solution at the required pressure, which relies on ‘subjective feel’. This means anaesthetic solutions can be injected at high pressures which can risk nerve injury.
By turning regional anaesthesia into a one-person procedure, the technology removes the challenges of communicating with an assistant regarding subjective injective pressure feel, thus removing the inconsistency of an untrained hand. The device also incorporates a unique built-in safety solution that limits injection pressure, which reduces the risk of nerve injury.
SAFIRA has already been successfully launched in the US, Australia and New Zealand and was launched in the UK and Europe in May. Medovate is now looking to extend the value of this game-changing technology for veterinary professionals.
Chris Rogers, sales and marketing director at Medovate, said: “This is an amazing story of how an idea developed by NHS consultants is not only helping human patients globally, but it is also making regional anaesthesia safer for animals as well.
“There are a significant number of regional anaesthesia blocks completed in veterinary practice per annum globally, so potentially this NHS developed device could play a major role in the future of veterinary practice worldwide.”
Regional anaesthesia is an important part of small animal care. The use of ultrasound guided regional anaesthesia is becoming more common, with the technique – which can help provide a higher level of visualisation for the practitioner – increasingly seen as a ‘gold standard’.
Adele Copland, operations supervisor at Five Sisters Zoo, added: “Striving to give our rescued lions the best care we can at Five Sisters Zoo, we were happy to try this new way of reducing any mouth discomfort they may have had after their specialist dental treatment.
“Sadly, they arrived here with damaged teeth from their mistreatment at the circus from which they were confiscated in Belgium. They have bounced back wonderfully after their treatment and are back to normal.”
The Five Sisters operation is not the only recent world first involving animals: a tiger at Shepreth Wildlife Park recently had an operation that saved his sight.
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