Veterinarians Use 3D Printing to Help Three-Legged Dog Walk Without Wheels

Dr. Jayne McGhie informed Ziggy’s owners that his leg had to be saved, though he couldn’t walk on it without pain.

Ziggy underwent surgery to correct his remaining front leg.

The University of Queensland/Vimeo

Ziggy is a Border Collie who was found in 2014 with a broken leg. Because it had healed incorrectly, his front right leg had to be amputated. He was adopted from the Wacol RSPCA by University of Queensland PhD students Glenn Althor and Rebecca Colvin when he was three months old.

The now 2-year-old dog was getting around on his remaining three legs; however, he has since been diagnosed with an angular limb deformity. Veterinarians say it is likely because the extra weight his front left leg is now bearing. Jayne McGhie, BVSc and senior lecturer at University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science, told Althor and Colvin that Ziggy would not be able to use his leg without experiencing pain, but that it was necessary to save it, ABC reports.

After hearing the news, Althor and Colvin ordered a wheelchair for Ziggy and trained him how to use it — a temporary solution to help keep weight off his bad leg. 

In December, Dr. McGhie and Lance Wilson, BVSc(hons) MANZCVSc, performed surgery on Ziggy’s remaining front leg.  McGhie told ABC that given Ziggy only had the one front leg, “I didn’t believe there was room for error. [Done incorrectly] that would make [Dr. Wilson] unable to ambulate and he would be totally dependent on his owners.” McGhie added that to make the 3D printed limb, “CT scan images of Ziggy's leg were used to create computerized and printed three-dimensional models of his limb. It made it easier for me to assess things like torsion in the bones and visualize how we could correct him.”

Ziggy can now walk without his wheelchair.

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