Dog Gets New 3D-Printed Skull After Battling Cancer

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
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A nine-year-old dog with a brain tumor recently received a new skull-cap made with the power of 3D-printing technology.

You might think this comes straight from a science fiction movie, but it’s real! A nine-year-old dachshund with a large brain tumor got a new skull–thanks to 3D-printing technology!

Patches’s owners worried about what originally looked like a small bump on his head. In just a few months, though, that small bump was revealed to be an aggressive brain tumor, the size of an orange, growing through his skull. Her family looked to Michelle Oblak, a talented veterinary oncologist from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph for help.

Oblak is a pioneer in using 3D-printing technology to treat dogs. In a typical case, the Oblak would remove the tumor and the part of the skull that was affected, and then a titanium mesh would be fitted for placement. With Patches, they decided to see whether or not a 3D-printed skull cap created specifically for her would be better suited, both financially for her family and technically for her as it is more a precise fit.

Related: Researchers at Virginia Tech May Have Hope For Brain Cancer Patients

Oblak and her team had to remove 70% of Patches’s skull, and replaced it with a titanium cap printed with 3D-printing technology. Researchers in the United Kingdom have attempted similar procedures but on much smaller scales.

The team had to take CT scans of Patches’s head and tumor and then use software and data to simulate a ‘trial run’ of the surgery. In this, they mapped out the specifications for the 3D skull cap, noting every tiny detail as there was little room for any error. Once the mapping was done, they sent the dimensions to ADEISS, a company that uses 3D-printing technology to create medical grade pieces. The company created the custom titanium skull cap.

The surgery to remove the tumor and most of Patches’s skull took four hours, and within a half an hour of having her skull replaced with the skull cap, Patches was up and taking potty breaks! Oblak says that Patches is cancer-free, and essentially came out of the surgery with just a crooked ear to show for it.

Related: Family Dog’s Cancer Turns Out To Be Delicious Teddy Bears

While Patches is cancer-free, she slipped a disc in her lower back a week after surgery and is paralyzed in her hind legs. She uses her two front legs to pull herself forward, refusing a wheelchair or any other assistance.

Guess when you’ve got a custom-fit titanium skull cap in your head, nothing will take you down.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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