Apr 25, 2016 | By Benedict

3D printing has once again proved the purr-fect solution for cats in need, with veterinary specialists from the Polish city of Łódź using the technology to create prototype prosthetic paws for a handicapped cat named Łatka—“Patch”, in English. The operation was the first of its kind in Poland.

Fall 2015 was a difficult time for three-year-old Patch the cat. One fateful night, while going about its usual business, the adorable black-and-white mog suffered a terribly injury, having both its hind paws crushed by an unknown assailant. Incredibly, the wounded animal managed to make its way home, with its distraught owners taking it to the vet at the earliest possible opportunity.

Vets in the Silesian town of Legnica had a good look at Patch, but could only offer bad news for the kitty and its owners: both affected paws would have to be amputated. The crushed paws were removed, leaving Patch with a pair of barely functional hind legs. Help, however, was at hand: inspired by similar cases around the world, Wroclaw-based vet Dariusz Niedzielski took a series of MRI and CAT scans of Patch, before passing them on to experts at the Laboratory of Veterinary Implants, a facility at the Technopark in Łódź, where a solution to Patch’s problem could be found.

The Laboratory of Veterinary Implants, as its name suggests, specializes in the design and production of custom-made implants and prostheses for animals. When the specialists received the scans of Patch from Niedzielski, they agreed that 3D printing could be used to create prototypes for a new set of hind paws for the cat. After some careful CAD trickery, the experts 3D printed the test paws for Patch. which proved to be a perfect fit. Then, once they had confirmation that the implants were of a suitable shape and size, they sent the design to a factory in nearby Pabianice, where the final set of implants were made out of titanium.

The titanium implants were attached to a sedated Patch during an operation on Thursday, coordinated by vet Michal Nowicki. To attach the implants, the veterinary team had to attach long titanium rods into the cavities of the animal’s bones. Nowicki expressed his pride at the operation’s success, given the small size of both Patch and the implants required. Never before had an operation of such complexity been performed in Poland.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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