A veterinary surgeon based at Medivet in Faversham has carried out a successful 3D printed partial jaw replacement on a dog.
The pioneering surgery was performed by Dr Ryk Botes, a Medivet branch partner with a special interest in orthopaedics and replacement surgery. He was touched by the plight of eight-year-old Shih Tzu, Poppet – a rescue dog whose lower jaw was broken on both sides. Botes felt that the only way to properly fix the dog’s jaw was to attempt a partial jaw replacement.
Although the technique is used in humans, Poppet’s small size made it particularly difficult to design and produce a custom-made implant. Working with specialist firm 3D Metal Printing, Botes was able to create a titanium jaw and perform the operation to fit to the dog’s jaw. She is now making a good recovery.
Poppet was adopted two years ago from a rescue centre by Daphne Harrigan from Pitsea in Essex. Apart from her broken jaw, she had other health problems which suggested she may have been used for breeding on a puppy farm.
Based on CT scans, 3D Metal Printing (based in the Innovation Centre at the University of Bath) created the implant, making a titanium jaw for Poppet. This was fitted in a one hour operation.
Harrigan’s daughter Debbie Crouch said: “Before the operation, her tongue lolled out of her mouth permanently and she couldn’t eat or clean herself properly. Now she can and it’s as if she has a whole new lease of life. It’s wonderful to see her – and equally wonderful to see how happy she makes my mum.
“We can’t thank Ryk and his team enough for what they’ve done for Poppet. He has really gone above and beyond and we’re so grateful. It’s a dream come true for my Mum to see Poppet living a normal, happy life.”
Until recently, Botes worked at Medivet Chafford Hundred. He now runs a centre of excellence for orthopaedics at Medivet Faversham, in Kent.
He added: “Veterinary science is not just about performing surgery or about generating an income. In addition to the welfare of our patients, we also need to consider the welfare of their owners,” he said. “The experience gained in the design, production and fitting of the jaw replacement implant will benefit many patients in the future.”
Alberto Casanoto, managing director of 3D Printing, said: “The beauty of this technology is that you can create a highly precise, personalised implant very cost-effectively. The jaw we created based on the CT scans Ryk sent to us fitted Poppet perfectly and, thanks to his skill, her life has been transformed.
“We think 3D printing has the potential to transform the lives of many more animals – and, of course, many people in the future and we are looking forward to playing our part.”