Patches the Pup Gets a New Skull

A 3D-printed metal plate gave the nine-year-old dachshund a new lease on life.

University of Guelph researchers have given Patches, a nine-year-old dachshund, a new lease on life. The team 3D-printed Patches a metal plate that replaced most of the pup's cancer-plagued skull. 

Patches's brain tumor was about the size of a baseball and it grew through her skull — about 70 percent of which needed to be removed. The prognosis would have been grim if not for the ambitious researchers. In previous procedures, it was possible to remove the tumor and then replace it with titanium mesh, however, according to veterinary specialists, the procedure was long and was cost-prohibitive.

Researchers took a CT scan of the dog's head, and digitally mapped custom 3D-printed titanium replacement. They also mapped where and how the implant would be attached, essentially providing a dotted line that the veterinarians had to follow to remove the infected material. The team was working with a two millimeter margin of error — or else Patches's new plate wouldn't fit.

The piece was printed by ADEISS, a firm that specializes in 3D-printing medical devices. ADIESS is no stranger to 3D-printing new body parts for canines. The company previously build a custom jaw implant for a seven-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog using Renishaw additive manufacturing metal powder bed fusion technology

On March 23, the surgery took four hours, but Patches was outside a mere 30 minutes after the procedure. 

What is crazy is that after all of this work, Patches received a new lease on life — and the potential for 3D printing in the medical field was never more apparent — but two weeks after the operation, Patches slipped a disc and her hind legs were paralyzed. Just tragic.

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