Innovative additively manufactured implant created to save a dog’s life

An international collaboration with partners from Germany, Canada and the UK has used additive manufacturing (AM) to save a Canadian family’s dog. In the first known procedure of its kind, a 3D printed titanium implant was successfully used to replace hard tissue lost from tumour removal from the maxilla (upper jaw) in a seven-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog.

Usually, tumours are shrunk by chemotherapy and surgically removed. In this case, the placement of the tumour made it impossible to operate without severely impacting the dog’s quality of life. The most suitable treatment was total excision of the growth and reconstruction with an implant.

The implant was designed with medical CAD tools and additively manufactured providing a patient specific implant (PSI) that is seen more commonly in human cases.

“Without AM technology, it would have been almost impossible to reconstruct the dog’s maxilla after tumour removal, because the area was extremely complex in geometry,” explained Klasen, veterinary surgeon, 3D designer and CEO of Voxelmed. “The implant had to have a similar shape and functionality as the dog’s existing bone structure.

“Using additive manufacturing to maintain the original shape and function of the oral and nasal cavity ensures a high quality of life for the dog, just as a naturally shaped skull and maxilla helps the dog to breathe and eat easily,” concluded Klasen.

German company, Voxelmed, designed the implant based on 3D imaging from the affected area. Veterinary surgeon, Julius Liptak, contributed to the design to ensure it met specifications, which allowed him to plan the procedure in advance. Renishaw produced the implant at the Additive Design In Surgical Solutions (ADEISS) centre in London, Ontario, Canada.

ADEISS is the result of a collaborative partnership between Western University, the London Medical Network and Renishaw.The centre will focus on the research, development and commercialisation of AM medical devices and surgical implants to address healthcare issues.

“Without the advancements in additive manufacturing technology, this dog would not have had such a long and happy future ahead of him,” explained Ed Littlewood, marketing manager at Renishaw’s Medical and Dental Products Division. “Prior to this case, many veterinary surgeons were unaware that the technology was available. Similar procedures are now being planned in Germany and further research is underway to see how animals can benefit from additively manufactured PSIs.”