Design Engineering

Winnipeg pooch receives 3D printed kneecap

By Design Engineering staff   

Additive Manufacturing Medical 3D printing slideshow Stratasys

Manitoba’s Orthopaedic Innovation Centre additive manufactures custom patella for six-year-old mixed breed dog.

14-Nov-Oreo-OIC-625It’s common to hear of additive manufacturing technology used for dental applications and in the creation of molds for custom built implants. At the forefront of this technology is the Winnipeg-based Orthopaedic Innovation Centre (OIC), a research and testing facility for the medical device market that uses 3D printing in joint replacement and other medical procedures.

But while the OIC regularly uses additive manufacturing to shorten production cycles and create customized products, a model from a 3D printer can’t be used directly as a medical option. At least, not yet in humans.

So when a Winnipeg veterinarian called hoping to find a new kneecap for a 6-year-old dog named Oreo, the staff at OIC saw the perfect opportunity to prove the concept by printed him a new one.

In 2012, Oreo suffered a dislocated left hind patella that was surgically removed to relieve the pain, but left him with a limp after surgery. To create the new canine patella, OIC 3D scanned a donated kneecap to create a CAD model that was then modified based on an X-ray of Oreo’s other patella.

Left: a CAD model of the 3D printed patella. Right: The 3D printed patella before surgical insertion.

Left: a CAD model of the 3D printed patella. Right: The 3D printed patella before surgical insertion.

Using a Stratasys Fortus 400mc, OIC built the replacement kneecap from a biocompatible polycarbonate. After testing it for mechanical strength, the implant was then attached to Oreo’s tendon and quadriceps using polypropylene sutures.

According to his owners, Oreo recovered full function of his leg within two months following the surgery and today, more than three years later, leads an active lifestyle without complications.

“FDM is an ideal 3D printing technology for implant manufacturing because it is capable of producing strong, durable, biocompatible parts with the right physical properties,” said OIC president Martin Petrak. “With FDM, we can tailor the implant to perfectly match the recipient’s anatomy which has the potential to provide dramatic improvements in functionality and recovery time.”


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