A Dog With Cancer Gets A New 3D-Printed Titanium Skull

Patches the dachshund had a brain tumor, which required removing part of her skull to take out, leaving her with a 70% titanium replacement skull.

By nowproducerdave on September 25, 2018
(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Seriously, they had to make a new “skull cap” for Patches, the 9-year-old dachshund. Patches had a brain tumor, which required the removal of about two-thirds of her skull had to be removed.

The tumor started out as a small bump on Patches’ head. It soon grew to about the size of an orange, and the family knew they had to do something soon. They consulted with their vet, who then sent them to see veterinary surgical oncologist Michelle Oblak. Michelle has been using 3D printing on animals for quite a while, and has the experience necessary to perform, basically a skull-replacement. Normally when removing a tumor like this, you’d remove a portion of the skull with it. A titanium “mesh” would be put in place of the hole, and that’s that.

But there’s a new method, and it’s cheaper. 3D printing technology has been improving, and now they can actually make a 3D model of the skull. Called a skull cap, it replaces the section that has to be removed. It’s custom modeled and printed to fit exactly as the original skull did, shape-wise. This new skull cap was fitted, which wound up replacing about 70% of Patches’ skull overall. The dog literally had a majority of its skull replaced with titanium. Within 30 minutes of waking up from surgery, Patches was up and aware, and was happy to run outside for a potty break.

While we’re happy to report that patches is totally cancer free now, there’s a “but.” Unfortunately, and we’re sad to report this part, but Patches got injured about a week after the surgery. She was out running around, playing, and slipped a disc in her lower back. This accident left her paralyzed in her back legs. She seems perfectly fine pulling herself around with her front legs though, and refuses to use a wheelchair.

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