Sep 24, 2018 | By Thomas

Researchers at an Ontario university have used 3D printing technology to replace the majority of a dog’s cancer-ridden skull. The novel cancer treatment procedure is being heralded as a major advancement in veterinary medicine.

3D printed titanium skull cap for dachshund with cancer

Patches, the nine-year-old dachshund from Willamsport, Pa. had a brain tumour the size of an orange that grew through her skull. The brain tumor resulted in deformity in the Dachshund’s head and would have been fatal if not treated, said Danielle Dymeck, Patches’ owner.

“We called her our little unicorn because she had this bump on her head, but it would have killed her. It’s pretty amazing what they did for my girl.”

According to Dymeck, a small bump that Patches had on her head for years began growing aggressively some months ago. Dymeck’s vet advised her to go to Cornell University and a vet there reached out to Dr. Michelle Oblak, a veterinary surgical oncologist working at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, for advice on Patches’ treatment.

Previous surgeries for dogs like Patches would entail removing the tumour and a part of the skull and replacing it with titanium mesh. It was an imprecise, costly and lengthy procedure, Dr. Oblak said.

A new kind of procedure which used a 3D printer to create custom-made titanium skull cap for the dog, is much better, she said.

Patches needed about 70 per cent of her skull removed and replaced. Veterinarians in Britain have performed a similar surgery, but it was on a significantly smaller scale, Dr. Oblak said.

“They felt she could recover from this,” Ms. Dymeck said. “And to be part of cancer research was a big thing for me – if they can learn something from animals to help humans, that’s pretty important.”

The new method began with a CT scan of Patches’ tumour and skull. Using several different software programs, Dr. Oblak and her team digitally cut out the tumour and disease-ridden parts of the dog’s skull. They then mapped out where a 3D printed replacement would fit, complete with the location of holes for screws to hold it in place.

Those digital plans were then sent to ADEISS, a medical-grade 3D printing company in London, Ont., which made a customized titanium skull cap for Patches.

Oblak along with several veterinary surgeons, software engineers, and industrial engineers created a “cutting guide” to follow during surgery.

On March 23, the Dachshund with cancer underwent a four-hour operation to get the 3D-printed titanium skull cap. Within 30 minutes of waking up, the dog was walking outside for a bathroom break, said Dr. Oblak.

Thanks to the 3D printing technology, Patches is now cancer-free.

All images credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS

“Her head looks great, other than her crooked ear,” said Dymeck of her pet’s post-operation look.

Dr. Oblak said she believes the procedure is the first of its kind in North America and a substantive leap from one other known case.

“Our hope is this is something that could be more widely available on a broad scale,” Dr. Oblak said. “It went very well.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application

Source: CBC


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