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January 6, 2014

3D Printing Benefits Veterinary Surgery

For veterinarians, practice financing resources can be limited and that means practitioners in the field have to devote available funds to the most highly effective tools. Given recent successes with three-dimensional printing, more veterinarians may soon consider investing in the technology.

Penn Current reported that Evelyn Galban, D.V.M., a lecturer and neurosurgeon in the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Clinical Studies, found 3D printing vital in treating a dog who was suffering from a bone-like protrusion from its skull. Medical imaging technology allowed the veterinary surgeon to develop a three-dimensional image of the growth. However, she felt she needed a more tactile understanding of the dog’s malady – and 3D printing was able to provide it.

“It’s difficult to fully understand the malformation until we have it in our hands,” Galban told the news source. “That usually doesn’t happen until we’re in surgery.”

Galban enlisted the help of colleagues on the university’s neurology faculty, who were already using 3D printing to create precise replicas of components of the human body, according to Penn Current. With the technology, the veterinary surgeon was able to use computed axial tomography scan data to produce a replica of the dog’s skull. Acrylic binding and a powerful seal helped increase the strength of the model, which was made primarily of gypsum powder.

What’s more, the promise that 3D technology holds for the veterinary field goes beyond printing. According to Tech Cocktail, medical technology startup Nanofiber Solutions is working on ways to adapt its three-dimensional nanofiber scaffolds, which can replicate and enhance tissues, to the needs of veterinary surgery.

“We successfully made a tendon replacement for a horse that had a tendon gap and helped it walk properly again,” Timm Peddie, a co-founding executive at Nanofiber Solutions, told the news source.

Veterinarians who invest in both technologies may find they can use them in conjunction with each other to great results.