Yes, 3D printing is going to the dogs – and other animals as well – as veterinarians use 3D printed models to make better medical decisions and prepare for surgery.
South Paws Specialty Surgery for Animals is a veterinary practice on the leading edge of veterinary medicine and technology in Australia. The clinic provides extensive cancer treatment, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery and extensive post-operative care. Dr. Charles Kuntz, the clinic’s founder, prides himself on the fact that he is always actively investigating and evaluating new technologies to improve his practice and the medical care offered there.
One of the clinic’s recent technological acquisitions (in conjunction with Royal Canin pet food company) was a Stratasys uPrint SE 3D Printer that they purchased from Tasman Machinery. Dr. Kuntz can hardly stop extolling the benefits of the 3D printed models, for both veterinarians and pet owners:
Take for example, a dog that has a bone chip in the elbow joint. The initial CT scan or X-Ray will likely show the problem, but it is difficult to explain to the family how it has occurred and what treatment is required. With a 3D printed model of
the joint showing where the damage has occurred, not only can the referring vet make a better judgment on whether specialist surgery is required, but can also show the pet owner how it will be done.
Among the other valuable uses Dr. Kuntz has found for the 3D printer and the models it produces are the following:
- Assessing of tumor removal techniques,
- Planning surgical procedures
- Producing bone replacement models
- Creating surgical incision templates
Dr. Kuntz has already developed the ability to create the necessary drawings for the 3D Printer from the images produced by CT scans and X-rays.
The benefits of 3D printing to veterinarians, animals, and animal owners is summed up by Dominic Parsonson, Sales Manager of Tasman Machinery: “The ability to be able to physically model injuries or physiology prior to any invasive surgery is a benefit that was limited mainly to humans in state-of-the-art hospitals, but now this is available to animals with the investment in 3D printing technology by South Paws.”