Andy the dachshund, an adorable pup from New Jersey, got back on its paws thanks to 3D-assisted surgery.
Loraine Young was distressed to find that her beloved seven-year-old pet was unable to walk on all four legs when she called him one day this past July. As her otherwise energetic dog dragged his hind legs behind him, she was quick to realize that something was very wrong.
According to TODAY, Andy was suffering from a life-threatening spinal condition which can sometimes affect small dogs with long bodies and short legs, like dachshunds. Young told the outlet that Andy is not only a great companion to her, but also to her late husband Robert, who passed away in August. When his health deteriorated, the dog became his source of constant love and compassion. Andy often cozied up to Robert in his recliner. Dachshunds' versatility makes them excellent family companions and they are very friendly.
When Loraine knew something wasn't right with her husband's beloved companion, she took him to Saint Francis Veterinary Center outside Philadelphia where doctors told her he needed emergency spine surgery.The procedure was necessary but also very risky, as Andy’s bones and blood vessels all fit into a space as small as a human finger.
Fortunately enough, St. Francis is taking part in a pilot program with Thomas Jefferson University’s Health Design Lab, which is exploring the clinical use of 3D printing for veterinary patients. Jefferson’s staffers quickly created a 3D replica of Andy’s damaged spine, based on data from his CT scan that was then used to guide and inform his surgery the next morning. Andy’s procedure was the first surgical application of the pilot program.
The technology to create models like Andy’s has been around for a few decades, but it has been extremely costly and not in widespread use. In recent years, however, 3D printing is being increasingly explored as an aid in surgeries and other procedures, especially those that are highly individualized.