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The Supervet: Noel Fitzpatrick: Bertie, Sunny, Edith (S17EP4 Channel 4 Fri 12 August 2022)

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In this episode, we meet one-year-old bouncy golden retriever Bertie, who has a special relationship with mum Rachel, who found him eight months after being widowed. Bertie developed a dislocated hip joint and curvature of his spine at just 10 weeks old and is in a lot of pain. Noel faces two challenges: to find an implant to treat Bertie’s arthritis and prevent his hip from dislocating, and to manage the effect of Bertie’s spinal deformity over time. Noel creates a custom-made hip socket to fit Bertie’s unusual shape, but the stakes are high. If surgery fails, Rachel may have to face saying goodbye to her soulmate.

Trusty Tibetan terrier, nine-year-old Sunny, originally came to Fitzpatricks after previous knee surgery elsewhere had failed. Noel identified multiple problems affecting the connective tissue of both Sunny’s knee and wrist joints, rendering him almost immobile. Noel performs a total knee replacement on the right side using an implant system he developed, called a rotating hinge. The initial operation is successful, and a second procedure is planned after a three-month recovery period. But suddenly, on the verge of the operation, Noel discovers a flare-up of the auto-immune inflammatory arthritis in Sunny’s carpi, which casts a dark cloud over his future once again.

Edith, an enthusiastic four-year-old springer spaniel and sock stealer extraordinaire, hurt her back two years ago and, despite no definitive diagnosis from numerous other vets, mums Val and Tara are convinced she is masking a problem. With the aid of a unique mechanism of performing dynamic MRI scans, which Noel developed, the team at Fitzpatricks can mimic the position of her lower back when she is in a jumping position, which reveals the cause of the problem: a bulging disc is compressing nerve roots in Edith’s spine and causing significant sciatic nerve pain. Val and Tara decide to opt for surgery, and one of Noel’s hugely successful inventions, a Christmas tree-shaped spacer screw, opens up the disc space between the vertebrae at the lumbosacral junction. Noel uses screws, clamps and rods to fuse Edith’s vertebrae, keeping the holes for the nerves open. Val and Tara have an anxious wait to find out whether Edith may be finally free from pain.

Prods/Dirs: Leon Dean, David Harris; Series Prod/Dir: Freddie Foss-Smith; Exec Prods: Alex Sutherland, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick; Prod Co: Blast! Films

Airdate: Fri 12 August 2022 at 20:00 on Channel 4

Season 17 Episode 4

Noel Fitzpatrick runs one of the most advanced veterinary practices in Britain and is known as the Bionic Vet. Some of the hardest-to-cure pets from across the country receive cutting-edge treatments and surgery here, from a team of over a hundred surgeons, nurses, ward attendants and physiotherapists. This series follows Noel and his team as they use their pioneering techniques to attempt to cure pets that might otherwise be beyond saving.