Male lion undergoes dental procedure using innovative anaesthesia device developed by the NHS

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A male lion living at Five Sisters Zoo in Scotland has become the world’s first animal to undergo dental surgery using an innovative anaesthesia device developed by the NHS.

The lion required root canal treatment and a specialist team gathered to try out the Safira device, which was developed by clinicians based at Norfolk’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Researchers worked with medical device company, Medovate, to design an instrument that enhances autonomy during procedures that require regional anaesthesia.

The root canal procedure was led by clinical director of Dentalvets, Susan Thorne. Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder rescues many animals, providing a safe sanctuary to help them recover and build strength. Adele Copland, operations supervisor, explained that many of the animals arrive at the zoo with damaged and broken teeth and signs of dental disease. The team was happy to try the device to reduce discomfort for the lion after dental treatment.

The Safira device makes a difference by allowing a single operator to anaesthetise the animal. Traditionally, two operators would be required, with the second injecting the anaesthetic using a “subjective feel,” which carries a risk of nerve damage. With the Safira device, which boasts a built-in safety solution, one person can do the job and the pressure is limited, lowering the risk of nerve damage.

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