A 9-year-old Dachshund dying from a tumor growing in her brain is cancer free thanks to an innovative surgery that replaced the majority of her skull.
Researchers at an Ontario university used 3D-printing technology to replace the dog’s cancer-ridden skull, in what they are saying is a veterinary first in North America.
Patches the dog had a small bump on her head for years, but a few months ago it began to grow aggressively. The brain tumor was getting so large it was weighing down Patches’ head and growing into her skull. It was getting dangerously close to her eye socket and her brain.
“We called her our little unicorn because she had this bump on her head, but it would have killed her,” Danielle Dymeck, who is from Willamsport, Pa told CTV. “It’s pretty amazing what they did for my girl.”
Dymeck’s vet put her in touch with Cornell University, and a vet there contacted Dr. Michelle Oblak at Ontario Veterinary College. Dr. Oblak studies the use of 3-D printing technology for treating dogs.
She used a 3-D printed custom titanium plate for surgery on Patches’ skull. By doing so, the time necessary for the surgery was greatly reduced and 70% of Patches’ skull was replaced with the perfectly fitting protective plate.
“She was asleep for about five hours, and within about half an hour after surgery, Patches was alert and looking around. It was amazing,” said Oblak on the Canadian vet college’s website.
“Her head looks great, other than her crooked ear,” Dymeck said of her pet’s post-operation look.
For Oblak the success of Patches’ surgery has much larger ramifications and applications.
“This is major for tumour reconstruction in many places on the head, limb prosthesis, developmental deformities after fractures and other traumas,” said Oblak, adding that she sees tremendous potential for 3-D printed implant technology to be transferred to humans in the future.