Tennessee Veterinarians Use 3D Printed Models for Pre-Surgical Planning and Practice

Share this Article

Mick post-surgery

As owners of two cats and two fairly rambunctious dogs, my husband and I have paid our fair share of visits to the veterinarian. Most of the time, it’s only for their annual check-ups, but we’ve had a few scary trips over the years, like the time the dogs got into the Halloween candy or when one of the cats, unbeknownst to me, licked up some baking soda that had spilled on the counter and started foaming at the mouth. Recently, our ten-year-old boxer Mickey had to have surgery to get an infected skin tag removed, along with a couple of teeth, and so was stuck in a soft e-collar for a few weeks. I was a nervous wreck while he was in the operating room, but everything turned out fine – the procedures were fairly minor. But that’s not the case for all furry patients, which is why doctors who operate on animals, just like doctors who operate on humans, like to plan out their surgeries ahead of time if they can.

That’s why the surgeons at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center have an in-house 3D printing facility, where they use 3D printers to create models in order to practice complicated procedures before they begin.

UT veterinary surgeon Dr. Kyle Snowdon said, “We’ll basically have everything done on the model, know exactly how our surgery is going to go before we go in the OR and do anything on our actual patient.”

“It’s almost a cheat code for surgery sometimes, it makes it very nice for us to go in there and for our plan to work well.”

First, they take a CT scan of the animal’s body part or organ they’re going to be operating on, and then they put their Ultimaker 3 to use creating a 3D printed replica.

Dr. Snowdon said, “Just like they would animate a Pixar movie, we can move things, we can cut them, we can physically do our surgery before physically doing anything outside. And then we can actually print the bones out and do our surgery again before doing anything on the animal.”

Dr. Kyle Snowdon

Thanks to 3D printed surgical planning models like these, before the animal comes in for surgery and gets on the operating table, the veterinary surgeons have had the chance to plan out, and even rehearse, complicated procedures and operations.

In addition to planning out and practicing surgeries, Dr. Adrian-Maxence Hespel, UT veterinary radiologist, uses MRI and CT images to create 3D printed models to teach students about animal anatomy; this is a practice we see often in the world of human surgery as well.

According to Dr. Hespel, “Having that plastic model in your hand really makes it click.”

Using 3D printing technology to plan out surgeries ahead of time can mean major cost savings for the patients – in this case the patients’ owners – in addition to getting them out from under anesthesia more quickly as well.

“When you are in surgery and the patient is under anesthesia, you can actually decrease the surgery time. Decreasing surgery time means you could decrease amount of complication,” Dr. Hespel said. “The longer a patient is under anesthesia, the more complication you could potentially have. Because the use of anesthesia requires the use of drugs, drugs are expensive,” explained Dr. Hespel. “If we are able to do a fair amount of pre-planning and pre-surgical while the patient is not under anesthesia, then we can reduce the cost and the complication rate for the patient, and that’s very gratifying.”

The veterinarians also use 3D printing technology to explore different ways of treating animals – Dr. Snowdon and his team recently worked with Zoo Knoxville to create a 3D printed facial prosthetic for a black-breasted leaf turtle named Patches who had an infected puncture wound on her face. Thanks to the prosthetic, Patches was able to eat normally again.

“Its being creative. Giving us another tool to fix problems that before we just kind of accepted. Where it ends up is anybody’s guess, but it will continue to evolve over the next couple of years,” said Dr. Snowdon.

To see more of the 3D printing work the UT veterinarians are doing, check out the video below.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

 

Facebook Comments

Share this Article


Related Articles

Open Hardware: Open-Source MRI Scanners Could Bring Enormous Cost Savings

Collaborative Research Team Develops Density-Graded Structure for Extrusion 3D Printing of Functionally Graded Materials



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Interview with Jasamine Coles-Black: Benefits of 3D Printed Models in Vascular Surgery

Seven years ago, the World Health Organization estimated the total global volume of operations to be 312.9 million. That could probably mean that in our lifetime, a lot of us...

Interview with Juan Carlos Miralles: 3D Printing in Latin America has Taken Longer than Expected

It is quite common for emerging Latin American countries to follow global technology trends, but 3D printing hasn’t gained enough force to even begin to disrupt some of the main...

UTK: Doctoral Student Explores the Intersection of 3D Printing, Microfluidics & Bioprinting

University of Tennessee at Knoxville Doctoral student, Peter Golden Shankles, presents his dissertation on ‘Interfacing to Biological Systems Using Microfluidics,’ discussing the popular new field of microfluidics and the 3D...

SUNY Upstate Medical University: 3D Printing Testing Aids for X-ray Equipment

While there are numerous calls to action right now for greater quality control programs in 3D printing and additive manufacturing processes, researchers at SUNY Upstate Medical University are more worried...


Training


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Print Services

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!