WATCH: Norfolk clinicians develop device to give dental treatment to lions

The QEH team helped to develop the device used in the dental procedure.

The QEH team helped to develop the device used in the dental procedure. - Credit: Five Sisters Zoo

A new anaesthesia device developed by Norfolk clinicians is helping vets go physically into the lion's mouth in a world first animal dental procedure.

The team of Dr Peter Young, Dr Emad Fawzy, Dr Joseph Carter and Dr John Gibson, from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, developed the medical device SAFIRA. 

Dr Peter Young (left) and Dr John Gibson from the QEH

Dr Peter Young (left) and Dr John Gibson from the QEH were among four clinicians that worked on the development of the device. - Credit: Medovate

The device's design allows for a slow, controlled release of anesthesia and was used in a procedure to treat the lion based at Five Sisters Zoo, in West Calder, Scotland - the first surgery of its kind in the world using the device.

Susan Thorne, Clinical Director of DentalVets, carried out the root canal procedure on the lion, extracting two teeth.

The lion had required specialist dental treatment due to mistreatment at a circus. 

The QEH team helped to develop the device used in the dental procedure.

The QEH team helped to develop the device used in the dental procedure. - Credit: Five Sisters Zoo

The QEH team worked with Cambridge-based medical device company Medovate for the device to be used in human healthcare but this is the first time it has been used to help veterinary professionals. 

Susan Thorne said: "The SAFIRA® system was very simple and easy to use and allowed me to accurately place my oral blocks."

Dr Peter Young (left) and Dr John Gibson from the QEH

Dr Peter Young (left) and Dr John Gibson from the QEH were among four clinicians that worked on the development of the device. - Credit: Medovate

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Under the current regional anaesthesia procedures, two operators are needed, with one operator required to inject the solution at the required pressure, which relies on "subjective feel". 

Under the SAFIRA system, it allows for it to be a one person procedure, to remove communication challenges in relation to subjective injective pressure feel. 

Boss the lion has benefited from the device following dental surgery.

Boss the lion has benefited from the device following dental surgery. - Credit: Five Sisters Zoo

As part of its development, a built-in safety solution that limits injection pressure was installed to help reduce the risk of nerve injury.

Boss the lion has benefited from the device following dental surgery.

Boss the lion has benefited from the device following dental surgery. - Credit: Five Sisters Zoo

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.”