There are things that people tend to take for granted when it comes to our medical care. Medications are strictly controlled, doctors usually have multiple care options available to them. Joint, knee, and hip replacements are routine medical procedures at this point. Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said for the four legged companions that we have chosen to make a part of our families and workforces.
Now I’m not suggesting that we sacrifice the medical care needs of humans for those of animals, despite there being a few people that I’d totally toss under a bus for my pets. However, it is important for us to remember that animals have multiple proven beneficial roles to play in our lives and many of our pets and domesticated animals are entirely dependent on us to make sure that they have happy and fulfilling lives due to our selective breeding. But the expense and time involved in researching safe medications, procedures, and implants is vast, and the money to fund them is not so much. So it is understandable that hard choices when it comes to medical research often need to be made.
A company from Liverpool has found a way to dramatically advance knee and joint replacements using 3D printed implants that can give lame or disabled dogs new mobility. Fusion Implants is a two-year-old spin-off startup from the University of Liverpool whose first product is now a widely used knee replacement implant and surgical plan. And because it is 3D printed, it can easily be customized to a specific breed or size of dog without being especially cost prohibitive.
They first made news last year when they received a significant six-figure investment from The North West Fund for Venture Capital, a program created to expand small business development in the European Union. The investments allowed the company to successfully launch their product–as well as develop training programs for veterinarians and an app that helps them pre-plan operations using the Fusion Implants knee replacement.
“We are working closely with our veterinary surgeon customers to provide the next generation of animal implants. New products will include further knee implants to cater for other surgical problems, advances in surgical instrumentation to simplify the operative procedures and articular implants for specific breeds of dogs,” explained Director of Fusion Implants Dr. Dan Jones.
Well they must have been doing something right, because the The North West Fund for Venture Capital has elected to give them a second six-figure investment. The funds will be used to research and create new products and surgical procedures using their technology.
“Fusion has exceeded its targets since the initial investment last year. This latest funding round will allow it to further develop its sales and distribution network and expand its product range,” said Lisa Ward of Enterprise Ventures, the investment firm that manages The North West Fund.
The joint implants and devices developed by Fusion contain both solid and porous areas. The solid regions give the implants strength and rigidity, allowing for a sturdy joint, while the porous regions allow bone cells to grow and envelop the implant. This allows the dog’s own bone growth to bond to the implant, giving it a stronger connection and allow it to last longer, often times longer than the life of the animal.
It is nice to know that the wide variety of medical procedures that we are used to are now becoming available to our pets and service animals. Discuss what these types of 3D printed implants mean to our furry friends over on the 3D Printed Dog Knee Replacements forum thread at 3DPB.com.