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Arbutus Medical is an orthopaedic equipment company developing innovative devices for use around the world. 


Filtering by Tag: Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Eric Wilkening, DVM on the DrillCover PRO

Sophia Ebelt

Launched in the fall of 2018, the DrillCover PRO is Arbutus Medical's latest innovation. This drill offers advanced orthopedic functionality, for human and veterinary surgeons alike, including reaming and cannulation. The modular design allows the system to grow with a surgeon's growing needs and skill set.

Dr. Eric Wilkening is a DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) at Millhopper Veterinary Medical Center. He performs a variety of orthopedic procedures and recently purchased the DrillCover PRO. This is what he had to say about it:


The Arbutus Medical cannulated drill is all around a fantastic tool.  I have used several other orthopedic drills and this tool is by far the best one of them all.  Not only is it affordable, it is also very well made and reliable. 

The Attachments

The cannulated drill attachment is very well made and has worked flawlessly for placing IM pins, building external fixators and bone plating.  The machine work is excellent and the adapter indexes to the protective sleeve very easily.  The only minor drawback is the chuck key is not universal.  I learned the hard way that a standard Jacob’s chuck key won’t work. 

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The Linen

The sleeve is very well constructed as well.  With minimal instruction, a surgery tech can drop the drill into it.  The protective cover is very easy to stretch around the entire tool and any wrinkles in the sleeve can be tucked into it, increasing the tactile feel when operating the drill. It is very easy to wash with common cleaners found in most veterinary hospitals. 

The Drill & Battery Life

The drill and the customized cover/sleeve interface work very well.  The drill is a Makita.  I’ve used the same drill in my shop and my house for years.  This drill takes abuse very well and should last a very long time.  The lithium ion batteries included with the drill charge very fast.  In the time it takes to prep a large dog for surgery, a battery can be charged.  It was very nice to have two batteries included with the package.  My only negative critique of the drill is that the clutch cannot be used because it is underneath the plastic adapter.  This really isn’t a major set back so long as you aren’t being too aggressive when setting screws.  The trigger can be lightly pulled to control the drill speed, you just need to be aware that screws can be over torqued when not using the clutch.  


The sleeve, protective cover and cannulated adapter can be easily cleaned after extensive use.  The bearings are sealed in the adapter so, a thorough cleaning is not going to damage it.  Just be sure to keep the chuck key with the adapter (see paragraph two).  The sleeve can be sterilized seventy-five times before replacing.  I’d anticipate getting about one year of use from it.  You can track the number of times it has been reused using a convenient chart on the inside of sleeve, another nice touch by Arbutus Medical.  Another added bonus is a standard autoclave can be used.  No more using another hospital’s gas autoclave or waiting days for ours to cycle.

Customer Service & Logistics

Customer service and shipping has been a pleasure with Arbutus Medical.  The drill was shipped very fast from Vancouver Canada to Florida.  The only hang up was in customs.  Within several hours of receiving the package, I placed an IM pin in a femur.  Customer service with Arbutus has been second to none.  Any questions, I had we’re promptly addressed via email or over the phone.  

Final Thoughts

Altogether this drill has been a great investment for our hospital.  The ease of use, maintenance and reliability has made orthopedic surgery pleasurable again.  The craftsmanship and design put into this tool really shows. I’ll never again have a two hour long workout using hand tools.  I’ve also gained much more confidence performing orthopedic surgeries on smaller breeds of dogs with this tool in my hands.  I would strongly urge any veterinarian considering adding orthopedic services, or expanding an existing service, to consider this amazing drill. Again, great job Arbutus Medical!"

Dr. Eric Wilkening, DVM . Millhopper Veterinary Medical Center, Gainesville, Florida

14 August 2019

Meet Cassius, the Tamanduas Anteater

Sophia Ebelt

Photos: Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

Photos: Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

Overlooking the western Costa Rican shoreline is Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary, a sanctuary providing veterinary care and accommodation to the injured, sick and orphaned wildlife of Costa Rica. Here we meet Cassius, the Tamanduas anteater.


Hit by a car and left for dead

The Tamanduas anteater are common to Latin America and live in the treetops of forests and grasslands. The animals are nocturnal and are uncomfortable on the ground, walking on the sides of their forefeet due to their sharp claws. Cassius had one day wandered onto a highway on the ground and was traumatically hit by a car. Left to die on the side of the street, Cassius was rescued and brought to the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary.  

At the sanctuary, Cassius was quickly treated by Dr. Kathy Wander and the Alturas Wildlife Team. His broken femur required surgery, with Dr. Wander using an Arbutus Medical DrillCover system to place an external-fixation device. This device consists of pins and screws placed into the bone and attached to a metal frame outside of the body. It stabilizes and aligns the broken bones during the healing process. Once Cassius's femur had healed and the external-fixation device was removed, this lucky Tamanduas anteater was released back into the wild and will hopefully never encounter a highway again.


Growing number wildlife trauma cases

While Cassius's is a success story, Dr. Wander notes the growing number of trauma cases arising from human-wildlife clashes over the last 3 years that she has been volunteering at the sanctuary. The main causes are car accidents or animals getting caught and electrocuted in power lines. This is likely due to increased traffic as a result of growth in tourism. Along with the wide array of types of animals as well as trauma procedures she finds herself performing, the Alturas Wildlife care team is faced with the additional challenges of relying on electrically-powered lighting and power tools and an unreliable power grid. To address some of these challenges in surgery, the sanctuary purchased an Arbutus Medical DrillCover Hex System, a battery-powered orthopedic drill solution, and noted "The DrillCover is a life saver for surgery here in the jungle.”

The Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is still in need of a SawCover System, a sterile and battery-powered saw solution, allowing Dr. Wander and her team a greater chance at more success stories, like Cassius’s.

If you are interested in donating a kit, please contact us at:


Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured, sick and orphaned wildlife here in Costa Rica. Their ultimate objective is to assist in the recovery and release of native wildlife, the sanctuary also provides lifetime accommodation and care to animals that cannot be released. The sanctuary serves as an educational center for local and international visitors and strives to improve human-wildlife co-existence and protect the diverse wildlife in Costa Rica and abroad.

Learn more and donate at:

The Gorilla Doctors

Elise Huisman

‘The Gorilla, what a creative, interesting and odd name for a vet clinic...’ was the first thought that came to mind in hearing about The Gorilla Doctors.  After a little research, I quickly realized that The Gorilla Doctors are not a veterinary clinic and not traditional veterinarians. Let's start with Dr. Mike Cranfield, one of the 'Gorilla Doctors ', who we interviewed.

The fight for survival of a species

Over the last 20 years, Dr. Cranfield's life has been bounced between Africa and North America. The thread through his career has been, and still is species preservation, from within the bounds of the Maryland Zoo, to in the field in Africa. There he contributes to the preservation of the Mountain Gorilla and the fight to bring the species back from the brink of extinction.

The Gorilla Doctors were founded in the mid 1980s by the legendary gorilla researcher, Dr. Dian Fossey.  Dr. Fossey and The Gorilla Doctors launched a radical conservation program that resulted in just over 1000 mountain gorillas now living in protected areas of the national parks of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Natural and human-induced trauma

Despite these protected natural habitats and ongoing conservation efforts, the species continues to dwindle on the brink of extinction. According to Dr. Cranfield, trauma is the leading cause of mountain gorilla death. This trauma arises from accidents, fighting between the mountain gorillas and injuries from poachers and their traps. This trauma can range from minor injuries to the loss of limbs and death of the animal.

Health of one animal is paramount to the survival of the species

With the population of 1,004 mountain gorillas in the wild, the health of each gorilla is paramount to the survival of the species. This is where the Gorilla Doctors target their conservation efforts. However, the group can only intervene and treat the mountain gorilla if the group has been "habituated" or indifferent to human presence - a process that typically takes years of work. If habituated and injured, the Gorilla Doctors intervene directly in the field from darting the animal with an injection of antibiotics to performing all types of surgeries.

In order to treat the animals in the field, the Gorilla Doctors must carry all the potentially necessary equipment in the field, often hiking kilometers in a hot and humid jungle, scouting out the frequented spots for different gorilla family groups. Only then can the medical intervention begin...

Medical equipment as the barrier to care

Dr. Cranfield told us of many cases where amputations were necessary: after a limb was caught in a snare trap, after a fight either within or between family groups. While the Gorilla Doctors have overcome many of the challenges of their work - performing surgery on a wild gorilla, intervening in the wild and outside of a operating room or medical clinic - access to the necessary equipment, for example a surgical saw, still poses a barrier in their ability to treat the gorillas and help preserve this endangered species, one gorilla at a time.

Photo: Elise Huisman, Virunga National Park, Congo 2018

Photo: Elise Huisman, Virunga National Park, Congo 2018


“The goal in these clinical cases is to save the animal’s life and intervene in such a way that it allows the gorilla to continue to function in the wild and contribute to the gene pool.”

We also learned from Dr. Cranfield that it is not uncommon that an amputation is required as a result of a snare trap or bite injury. To perform amputations cleanly and efficiently and maximize the chance of success, the Gorilla Doctors would need an oscillating saw which they currently don’t have. In another case Dr. Cranfield recalls feeling uneasy going to rescue an ensnared gorilla while followed by a TV crew working on a documentary. The team believed that the snare had caused significant soft tissue injury and would require amputation but they didn’t have adequate instruments to perform the procedure.

Donate so the Gorilla Doctors can get a saw

We at Arbutus Medical are very inspired by the exceptional work the Gorilla Doctors do and want to help them to keep even a single injured individual to increase the mountain gorilla population. If this makes you just as happy and proud, please contact us to help fund enough to give the Gorilla Doctors a saw.

To help us provide a saw, please contact:

If you would like to support the Gorilla Doctors by making a monetary donation in any amount, you can do that at their website: