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Image via University of Guelph/Facebook

A veterinarian in Ontario successfully replaced a portion of a dog’s skull after discovering it had to come out in order to remove the cancerous tumor that was forming near her brain. A first for North American veterinarians, Dr. Michelle Oblak used a 3-D printer to create the custom titanium plate that would save Patches the Dachshund’s life.

“The technology has grown so quickly, and to be able to offer this incredible, customized, state-of-the-art plate in one of our canine patients was really amazing,” Dr. Oblak says in a statement released by Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). 

When Dr. Oblak, a veterinary surgical oncologist at the University of Guelph’s OVC, realized she had to replace about 70 percent of the top surface of the dog’s skull, she knew she had to get creative.

So she teamed up with a Sheridan College engineer to create a 3-D model of the dog’s head and tumor, and utilized Ontario-based 3-D medical printing company, ADEISS, to print the piece.

According to the statement, the piece fit perfectly into Patches’ skull during surgery. “She was asleep for about five hours, and within about half an hour after surgery, Patches was alert and looking around. It was amazing,” Dr. Oblak says.

Dr. Oblak says she sees the potential for 3-D printed implant technology to be used for people.

“In human medicine, there is a lag in use of the available technology while regulations catch up. By performing these procedures in our animal patients, we can provide valuable information that can be used to show the value and safety of these implants for humans,” she tells the OVC.

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