A dog called Lucky has lived up to his name after an operation using 3D printing for a new leg at a specialist veterinary clinic in Limoges (Haute-Vienne, Nouvelle-Aquitaine).
The dog, who was abandoned by his original family as a pup and discovered tied to a tree by rescue group le SPA (La Société Protectrice des Animaux), was rescued by another family, in Saint-Adjutory in Charente in September 2021.
But when a neighbour accidentally drove over his back paw in the driveway outside the family home, the owners feared the worst.
François Tisseuil, Lucky’s owner, told France 3: “We thought that the paw was done for. We had two solutions: total amputation, or trying to heal it, which could have taken a long time and cost a lot of money.”
But their vet in Charente advised the family to go to a specialist clinic north of Limoges. The Sirius clinic specialises in difficult surgeries and works with 175 veterinarian surgeries across 22 departments.
A doctor there, veterinarian Dr Frédéric Sanspoux, offered the family a third option: a 3D-printed prosthetic grafted onto Lucky’s bone.
Mr Tisseuil said: “We hesitated a bit due to the cost of the operation (€4,000), but the person who caused the accident was very upset and managed to claim for it on their insurance.”
The Sirius clinic was the first of its kind in France to successfully graft prosthetics onto animals that had suffered limb amputation, in 2020.
Dr Sanspoux said: “We start by doing a complete scan of the animal. We base the shape on the healthy limb, in a kind of ‘mirror effect’ to make up the amputated leg.”
The clinic works with several other companies and suppliers, including ADDI Dream, based north of Limoges, for its models; Ennoïa in Besançon for the computer imaging of the prosthesis, and 3D Med Lab in Marseille for the 3D printing.
The result was a titanium prosthesis for Lucky, created especially for him. The operation took place on September 27, 2022, and lasted around 90 minutes.
The vet explained: “The goal is that the animal rediscovers the mobility he had before. So the prosthesis has to be very well integrated into the bone. There is a phenomenon called ‘osseointegration’, which means that the bone ‘colonises’ part of the prosthesis, so it becomes part of the animal’s body.”
After the operation, Lucky managed to avoid two of the major post-surgery risks, including serious inflammation and infection. Four months later, he is walking and running on the limb without any issues.
His owner said: “He runs without any problems, as though he had four paws, he’s just as crazy.”
Lucky is now aged 18 months and has become one of the clinic’s mascots (although his crown could be stolen soon by a cat which is also set to get a 3D printed prosthesis at the clinic soon).
3D printing is still in its early stages when it comes to surgery but in future it could even be used extensively in more veterinary procedures, including for shoulder or elbow operations.
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