3D-Printed Skull Plates to the Rescue


In a breakthrough for cancer research, veterinarians from Ontario veterinary college successfully 3D-printed and implanted a titanium plate onto a dog’s skull.

Patches, the dachshund in question, had a large cancerous growth growing on her skull. The rate of growth of the tumour meant there was little chance of survival for this man’s best friend.

With the help of 3D printing, veterinarians  Dr. Michelle Oblak and Dr. Galina Hayes, performed a ground-breaking surgery where they replaced part of Patches skull with a 3D-printed skull puzzle piece to ensure the brain stays protected after the growth had been removed.

‘The technology has grown so quickly, and to be able to offer this incredible, customized, state-of-the-art plate in one of our canine patients was really amazing,’ Dr. Oblak said.



Dr. Oblak worked closely with a team at Ontario Veterinary College specializing in RaPPID (rapid prototyping of patient-specific implants for dogs), mapping the tumour’s location and size.

In collaboration with Sheridan College’s Centre for advanced manufacturing design and technologies, Dr. Oblak created a 3D model of the head and tumour in order to ‘virtually’ perform the surgery to see what part of the skull is left behind.

Once Dr. Oblak knew the size and measurements of the dog’s skull, she worked with 3D medical printing company ADEISS on developing a replacement skull plate.

The trouble for surgeons performing this type of lengthy and difficult operation is that once the portion of skull is removed, they must assess the open and cut-away area and shape titanium mesh over the spot.

In Patches’ case, the doctors fit the 3D-printed skull plate into place perfectly. A technique that can eliminate the need to crudely model an implant in the operating room and significantly reduce risk.





‘This is major for tumour reconstruction in many places on the head, limb prosthesis, developmental deformities after fractures and other traumas,’ said Oblak.

‘In human medicine, there is a lag in use of the available technology while regulations catch up. By performing these procedures in our animal patients, we can provide valuable information that can be used to show the value and safety of these implants for humans. These implants are the next big leap in personalized medicine that allows for every element of an individual’s medical care to be specifically tailored to their particular needs.’