08 May 2015
3D printed surgical implants for dogs recognised by Merseyside Innovation Awards
An improved method of repairing a common knee problem in dogs has been recognised by the Merseyside Innovation Awards.
Fusion Implants – a spin-out from the University of Liverpool – was crowned a monthly winner of the awards after creating a metal 3D printed implant to surgically remedy canine cruciate ligament injury.
The process involves printing with powdered titanium a porous wedge that imitates the structure of bone.
A veterinary surgeon then operates to cut into the bone and insert the wedge, which is secured with a pin, plate and screw. Over time, the dog’s bone integrates with the Fusion TTA wedge which changes the mechanics of the knee slightly, the procedure which stabilises the knee joint is known as the Fusion TTA procedure– and it creates a super-strong bond with the bone.
“It is an exciting application of 3D printing technology,” said Fusion Implants Director Dr Dan Jones, who worked with Dr Chris Sutcliffe, Paul Whittle, Rob Pettitt, Prof Jon Innes and Ben Walton.
“The company has been operating for two years but the approach using this technology has been 15 years in the making. The flexibility of the process means we can manufacture implants for dogs of any size and the porous structure means they form a permanent biological fix with the host bone.”
So innovative is the process, Fusion Implants will not sell products to vets without them undergoing a training programme. To date they have run 5 full day training courses and trained over 70 vets at the University of Liverpool Veterinary Training Suite and the Versalius Clinical Training Centre at the University of Bristol, both of which have best in class training facilities.
“We hold regular sessions for vets,” said Dr Jones. “We teach them how to use the app we have developed to plan their operations and we take them through a number of practical demonstrations.
“Already more than 250 successful operations have been carried out and we are expanding into Europe, Australia and the US.”
Fusion Implants has received funding support from the North West Fund for Venture Capital to support its growth as it seeks to claim a slice of a market worth around $1.32 billion in the US alone.
It also believes the process can be applied more widely to veterinary surgery and is exploring other common problems that could benefit from this process.
For more information about Fusion Implants visit www.fusionimplants.com or follow the company on Twitter @fusionimplants.