Dog receives 3D-printed titanium skull plate following cancer surgery

A 3D-printed custom titanium plate has been successfully fitted onto a dachshund’s skull following surgery to remove a large cancerous tumour on her head.

Nine-year-old Patches under went the innovative procedure with Dr Michelle Oblak, a Canadian veterinary surgical oncologist based at Ontario Veterinary College, after the tumour grew so big that it began to push dangerously close to the dog’s brain and eye socket, as well as weighing down her head.

3D-printed custom titanium plate (Ontario Veterinary College)">
3D-printed custom titanium plate (Ontario Veterinary College)

Dr Oblak said: “The technology has grown so quickly, and to be able to offer this incredible, customised, state-of-the-art plate in one of our canine patients was really amazing.”

Surgeries of this kind usually take a long time and cost more, requiring the tumour and portion of the skull to be removed, then fitting a titanium mesh.

Instead, the 3D-printed method used on Patches saves time by eliminating the need to model an implant in the operating room.

“She was asleep for about five hours, and within about half an hour after surgery, Patches was alert and looking around. It was amazing,” Dr Oblak continued.

By printing a 3D model of the dog’s head and tumour before, Dr Oblak was able to do a test run of the surgery and get a better idea of what would be left behind once it was removed.

This meant that the vet could determine the size of the portion of skull being removed and send the dimensions to a 3D medical printing specialist to create the plate.

Patches post-surgery (Ontario Veterinary College)">
Patches post-surgery (Ontario Veterinary College)

“In human medicine, there is a lag in use of the available technology while regulations catch up,” Dr Oblak explained.

“By performing these procedures in our animal patients, we can provide valuable information that can be used to show the value and safety of these implants for humans.

“These implants are the next big leap in personalised medicine that allows for every element of an individual’s medical care to be specifically tailored to their particular needs.”

- Press Association

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