Patches is a nine-year-old dachshund who recently underwent surgery to remove a huge tumor on her head. The tumor had grown to about the size of an orange – big for a dog her size. It was aggressive, and was beginning to make it’s way into Patches’ eye socket.
Patches’ family was referred to veterinary surgical oncologist Michelle Oblak at the Ontario Veterinary College who, thanks to modern technology, was able to help.
The surgery required the removal of both the tumor and part of Patches’ skull. In the past, the missing part of the skull would have been covered with a titanium mesh, but thanks to 3D printing technology, doctors were able to create a titanium cap fitted especially for Patches. Scans taken of Patches’ skull – tumor and all – were 3D printed into a mold, and a cap was made to fit.
Because there was little room for error, the mold was sent off to a medical-grade 3D printing company. Had any of the measurements been off by even 2 millimeters, the cap would not have fit.
Not only does this method allow doctors to make a better replacement for the missing skull, it also allowed Dr. Oblak to prepare by seeing exactly what she would be facing during surgery. She explains in the video below:
“The first time I’m doing this surgery is not on that patient, it’s actually on this model.”
Patches endured a few hours surgery, but after only 30 minutes, she was up and walking around – totally cancer free!
Her family has given her a new nickname – “Titanium Top.” The procedure left one of her ears permanently crooked, but they’re thankful that her surgery was a success.
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