FORT COLLINS--A five-month-old burro named Primrose got a leg up on life in the form of a prosthetic hind limb at Colorado State University recently, and her owner, a professional storyteller, put a happy ending on a sad tale.
After surgery and weeks of medical care at Colorado State's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the long-eared, waist-high, brown-coated Primrose got her new leg Aug. 31 under the supervision of Dr. Gayle Trotter, a Colorado State professor of clinical sciences who performed the amputation. With Trotter and clinical staff looking on, prosthetics technician Theresa Conrath performed the fitting and tryout in the hospital's parking lot at the end of August before a crowd of reporters and television crews.
Primrose was three weeks old and living near Northglenn, Colo., the home of owner Bill Lee, when she was attacked by neighboring dogs. Lee, a storyteller, burro raiser and burro racer, sought veterinary treatment for the numerous bite wounds, but both hind legs became badly infected. He was referred to Colorado State's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Veterinary Teaching Hospital for further consultation.
Trotter, a veterinary surgeon who specializes in horses, saw the animal in June and found that an infection, similar to a staphylococcus infection in humans, had reached the bone in both legs. The infection had so weakened the right rear limb that the bone cracked. Trotter, who had never amputated a burro or horse limb before, removed the leg below the hock.
"We used a recommended technique in amputations, salvaging soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons and wrapping them around the stump after rounding off the end of the bone," he said. "It provides better cushioning for the limb if soft tissue is available."