Incredible 3D printed ‘bionic implant’ lets Chihuahua walk after spinal damage

A tiny Chihuahua that was paralysed by a rare bone condition can now walk after being given a custom designed 3D printed “bionic implant.”

Owner Zoe Cekalla took four-month-old Ping to the vet after noticing he struggled walking on all four legs.

The little dog was instantly referred to specialists and Ping was diagnosed with a severe malformation in his neck.

CT and MRI scans showed that Ping's bones were not formed properly leading to instability and a pressure on the spinal cord.

He was hospitalised and put in a neck brace while he waited for surgery. Six days layer Ping was in the operating theatre.

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Experts at Hamilton Specialist Referrals used custom designed 3-D printed guides to position 1mm screws to stabilise his neck.

Veterinary neurologist John Parker said: "When Ping was first brought in to us he was depressed and couldn't walk.

"The weakness had progressed rapidly and was affecting all of his limbs.

"He also had a head tilt and his eye reflexes were reduced. We knew from these signs the problem was localised to his brain or cervical spinal cord."

Ms Cekalla of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, said: “He's such a tiny little puppy and I was devastated when he became so weak.

"When I heard he needed spinal surgery I couldn't believe such a tiny dog would cope with such a major procedure."

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"The team at Hamilton's were fantastic and I can't thank John, Michael and the whole team enough for all their expertise and care.

"It truly is amazing that my bionic puppy is back to his normal self so quickly”.

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3D printing is increasingly used in medicine because complex one-off prosthetics can be deigned so quickly and comparatively cheaply.

Plastics, metal, and even living cells are increasingly being printed out by medics.

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The first 3D prosthetic made for a dog was created in 2014 when 3D Systems fitted Derby, a young dog from South Carolina, custom-made prosthetics because he had no front paws.

Since then, vets have created back legs for a dog, a jaw for a sea turtle and even a metal beak for a parrot.

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