Netherlands: Siberian Husky Home & Doing Well After Surgery to Implant Titanium 3D Printed Skull Roof

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Thanks to the unflagging dedication of animal lovers around the globe, countless pets have had their lives changed for the better (and sometimes saved) because of 3D printed devices. And while 3D printing technology is leading to stunning progress in a wide range of industries—not to mention the medical field where humans are being helped too—most of us still want to read about the kitten, sheep, or even a duck that received assistance when they were in discomfort, or perhaps even close to death or being euthanized.

Just as innovations in 3D printing are growing more complex, however, so are some of the veterinary procedures including surgical implants and devices; in fact, groundbreaking surgery in the Netherlands at Utrecht University’s Clinic for Companion Animal Health led to a successful benign tumor removal in a Siberian Husky, combining veterinary and human medical procedures. The surgeons involved were able to use one of the greatest benefits 3D printing offers to the world: patient-specific care.

Both veterinary and medical staff collaborated during the procedure, designing a new roof area for the dog’s skull and then implanting it successfully. The Husky had been suffering from an osteoma on the cranial wall, and although it was not cancerous, it was causing dangerous pressure to the brain. 3D Systems was behind the manufacturing of the 3D printed titanium implant which was tailored to the exact measurements of the dog’s skull.

“One of the main advantages of 3D printing of a skull roof is that it can be tailored perfectly to the individual, and a porous titanium edge can be printed,” said Veterinary surgeon Professor Bjorn Meij. “This edge allows the bone to grow into the implant, so it becomes integrated into the skull.”

Björn Meij places the new titanium skull roof (Photo: Utrecht University)

The dog was able to return to the comfort of home and is recuperating nicely, along with making history in veterinary surgery that should lead to strides in other procedures for animals; for instance, 3D printed implants could be used in hip dysplasia cases. The implantation of the 3D printed skull roof is just one part of a more substantial study between the faculty of Veterinary Medicine and faculty of Medicine at Utrecht University. So far, they have already made progress in 3D printing features that could be used for dogs requiring assistance in their lower front legs, but the technology and associating surgical techniques could also apply to paws or another surgery related to a canine skull.

The Husky after surgery (Photo: Utrecht University)

In recent years, veterinarians and doctors at Utrecht have been working together regarding research in regenerative medicine. In most cases, they have been focused on horses and dogs with spine or joint issues, including arthritis; unfortunately, there aremany such animals suffering from such discomfort:

“But we are collaborating ever more closely with human medicine, and this has led, for example, to researchers from Veterinary Medicine, UMC Utrecht and the Hubrecht Laboratory working together in a single lab,” explained Meij. “More and more is being published on dogs and horses and the translation of findings for comparable diseases in humans: hence the focus on One health – One Medicine.”

The project was co-funded by The Prosperos project (financed by Interreg VA Flanders – The Netherlands Program). 

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

Skull roof prosthesis, skull after removing tumor, skull with tumor (Photo: Utrecht University)

[Source / Images: Utrecht University]

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