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3D printing technology changing veterinary techniques

And the leg bone's connected to the...printer? The introduction of 3D printing technology is changing the world in unexpected ways. At the College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Tatiana Motta is using a 3D printer to create canine leg bones for students to use in surgical training workshops.

“These are bone replicas of actual canine patients from the Veterinary Medical Center,” explained Dr. Motta, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. “We can use a CT scan from a patient, and produce a bone model that looks exactly like the bone in the dog.”

Plastic replicas of actual canine bones formed by a 3-D printerA traditional printer works by applying ink to paper. A three-dimensional printer works by applying layers of material to create a model of the subject – rather than a flat picture of the subject. Adapting the CT image to a readable file for the printer is a time-consuming process that Dr. Motta has been able to refine over the past several months.  

 “We can now produce a printed bone within 24 hours of the CT scan,” she said.

The printed bones are changing the way students learn surgical procedures; they are able to practice fixing a broken bone using models of actual bones.

Students gain a great deal of confidence by practicing skills before they ever touch an animal, explained Dr. Motta. Using the printer allows students to see bones as they actually occur in animals.  

 “Ohio State has had an outstanding history of great surgical teaching, and this new process builds on that expertise,” Dr. Motta said.

Dr. Jonathan Dyce, associate professor in Veterinary Clinical Sciences is also using the 3D printed bones, to plan surgical correction to help dogs with severe limb deformities caused by abnormal development or trauma.

“I think we are just starting to realize the advancements this technology may give us,” he said. “The next few years are going to be quite exciting.”

WBNS-TV, Central Ohio’s CBS affiliate, recently aired a news story about the college’s use of the 3D printer. View it here.

May 20, 2015


Last updated: 

Tuesday, January 31, 2023 - 12:41pm