Dec.7, 2013

At Auburn University the latest in 3D printing technology is literally going to the dogs, cats and other animals. Auburn's College of Veterinary Medicine is among the first veterinary programs in the United States to use 3D printing and models to make delicate doggie surgery possible.

In the college's Department of Clinical Sciences, researchers have begun using its newly-acquired Makerbot 3D printer to investigate ways to provide a solution for a complicated surgical procedure before the surgery was performed.

In one particular case, Sophi, a 7-year-old Yorkshire terrier had an instability of the first and second cervical vertebrae. Yorkshire terriers are small dogs, and Sophi is only 1.4 kilogram.

"The joint was not only unstable but also was not aligned properly. Because of the dog's small size, we did not have the proper implants to make the repair. " said Dr. Don Sorjonen, a professor emeritus of neurology and neurosurgery. The Makerbot 3D printer was the first technology grant awarded by the college's Information and Instructional Technology Committee. Hespel applied for the grant, along with Dr. Judith Hudson and Dr. Ronald Montgomery.

Using CT scans of Sophi's neck, Dr. Hespel printed her neck bones at actual size. "After producing a physical model of the dog's vertebrae using the 3D printer, we could accurately measure the cervical vertebrae and order plates and screws specially suited for the repair."

3D printed spine model

Usually doctors can only select the screws and plates and figure out how to direct the screws during the operation, a process Dr. Sorjonen says can take about 45 minutes. "Being able to craft a remedy prior to surgery increased the chances of a successful outcome."

"Thanks to a computer we were able to create a 3D model on a screen, but allowing this model to be printed gives us an excellent tool for communicating with our colleagues and clients," said radiology resident Dr. Adrien-Maxence Hespel.

"The 3D printer allows the surgeons to evaluate more approaches to solve a problem preoperatively and may help them in deciding which solution is optimal for the patient," Hespel added. "By having a prototype in their hands, surgeons can narrow their choice of surgical implants ahead of time. As the models can be sterilized, they can even be used during surgery as a quick reference."

Since helping Sophi, the printer also has been used to create an anatomy model to study a bone fracture and reconstruct a horse's fractured skull. Sophi has now recovered and her gait is much improved. "She still has some deficits," says Dana Coleman, Sophi's owner. "She's limited in her play, but she plays. And she still has that personality. She wants attention all the time."


via Makerbot

Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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