Thanks to a delicate surgery and a 3D printing mask, Loca, a 4-month-old Staffordshire bull terrier, is recovering from a severe attack from another dog.
The attack fractured Loca's cheekbone and jaw, severely damaging his temporomandibular joint, a sliding hinge that connects his jawbone to his skull, according to a UC Davis Veterinary Medicine press release. There were also multiple puncture wounds on his face and neck.
The release provided details on how UCD caregivers planned the treatment of Loca:
Faculty members, Drs. Frank Verstraete and Boaz Arzi and resident doctor Colleen Geisbush of the Oral and Oral Surgery Service of the UC Davis Veterinary Hospital knew that Loca surgery would be a challenge, but there was hope. Loca was young, which meant that there was a good chance that the damage to the temporomandibular joint would be corrected by natural bone regeneration. The case also gave them the opportunity to use a new face mask that they developed with biomedical engineering students.
Designed to be used as a cast for a fractured skull while it heals, the mask was the result of a collaboration among oral surgeons. and the UC Davis Engineering College.
The Oral Surgery and Dentistry Service has been working with the Biomedical Engineering students of UC Davis College of Engineering to design a device that could help the healing process of maxillofacial fractures. The result was the Exo-K9 exoskeleton, a custom 3D printed exoskeleton for dogs with maxillomandibular injuries.
As soon as Loca arrived at the hospital, Arzi notified the BME students that they were ready to print an Exo-K9 if a CT scan showed it would be an ideal initial case. A CT scan with a conical beam showed the extent of the injuries to the facial bones, jaw, temporomandibular joint and also a small fracture in the vertebrae of his neck. Rescue surgery was then performed to remove fragments of bone from the right cheekbone and right jaw.
While Loca was recovering from surgery, BME students worked in the Translating Engineering Advancement Laboratory for Medicine. According to Crazy's CT specifications, the dimensions of the mask would fit precisely in his head and could help optimize the healing process.
Loca did extremely well during her three-day hospitalization and began eating soft foods. During the following month, Loca was not allowed to play with toys, bones to chew or anything difficult. His mask and neck remained on at all times, except to allow him to eat and drink. She was fed a soft diet until her wounds healed.
Loca had a one-month review that showed that new bone was forming at the site of her old temporomandibular joint.
Nearly three months later, Loca received his third CT scan with a conical beam that revealed that his previous surgery sites had healed well and that the new temporomandibular joint formation was progressing.