3D Printed Implant Saves Dog and Opens Up Road for Humans

Patches is a lovely dog that had awful luck. She developed a large tumor on her head, which posed a threat on its life if it was not removed quickly, as it would press on the brain and nerves.

A doctor specialized in small animal surgery was able to reduce the tumor that grew on the dachshund’s skull, and used a 3D printed implant in order to give it its original shape back, making the operation a landmark in animal surgery.

The story has been picked up by news outlets and it went viral over the internet in a matter of days. The 3D-printing technology has become incredibly popular since it was first released, and continuous improvement has allowed the center were Patches was treated to develop the implant that was used during the operation, according to lead surgeon Dr. Galina Hayes.

The results were added by researcher Dr. Michelle Oblak, which also worked in a duo team with Hayes in order to perform the operation, to a study that examines the similarities of cancer cases encountered in dogs and humans. Oblak also noted that the implant was created by a specialized working group, in order to be confident that it would fit properly during the operation. A 3-D model of Patches was created, on which virtual mock operations were done in order to estimate how big the implant should be and how will the gap look after the removal of the tumor.

After the measurements were taken, Oblak contacted a specialized 3-D medical printing company in London, Ontario, which created the skull plate according to the specifications.

Traditional titanium plates were a viable alternative, but they have to be modeled on the spot, which takes time and exposes the brain to environmental risks. The printed implant fit perfectly, and the duration of the operation was substantially decreased.

The potential for 3-D implants suitable for humans is huge, and it is a possibility that should be explored in the future.

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