Saving a Puppy's Life with a New 3D-printed Face Mask

Khryss | Published 2017-12-23 08:47

Who wouldn't do anything just to save their dear best friend's life?

A 4-month-old female Staffordshire bull terrier puppy arrived at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine with a fractured cheekbone and jawbone. Lovingly calling it Loca, the puppy happened to be severely bitten by another unknown dog, which, as you can see, resulted to this damage.

She also damaged temporomandibular joint (or TMJ, which connects the jawbone to the skull), and puncture wounds on her face and neck, according to a statement from the University. And while it seems like nothing can be done to this poor dog, Loca's doctors believed that with her case, they can utilized this new approach for treating facial fractures — a 3D-printed "exoskeleton" mask for dogs.

Known as the Exo-K9 Exoskeleton, researchers at the university has long been developed, as part of a collaboration between the veterinary hospital and the U.C. Davis College of Engineering. Now, it's just left for testing.

What's so special about this mask? Well, frankly, nothing really much. Just like when you get a fractured arms or legs, you get to wear the usual cast. This time, the dog get to use it for her face. That means, the mask would hold the affected bones in place while they heal.

Of course, the mask has to be custom fit. So, Loca's skull had to undergo CT scan and then printed with the ever-useful 3D printer. Loca was the first patient to try the Exo-K9 mask, the university said.

After just 1 month of wearing it, a CT scan showed that new bone was forming! Loca was then encouraged to eat hard kibble so that her TMJ would become a functional joint or else it might fuse with her skull, the statement said. 3 months later and her TMJ healing was "progressing nicely"! Now, somebody's bestfriend is close to recovery. Yay!

Hey! Where are you going?? Subscribe!

Get weekly science updates in your inbox!