3D printing and spine surgery helps paralyzed dog walk again

Andy the dachshund is one lucky dog. He’s a small pup who got a big chance at a second life.Loraine Young of Woodstown, New Jersey was distraught to find that her beloved seven-year-old pet was unable to walk on all four legs when she called him one day this past July. As her normally energetic dog dragged his hind legs behind him, she quickly realized that something was very wrong.
Loraine Young describes her pet dog, Andy the dachshund, as the best boy.Loraine Young
"He got up in the morning and couldn’t get out of bed," Young told TODAY. "He was dragging his legs behind him. He was paralyzed."
Andy was suffering from a life-threatening spinal condition which can sometimes affect small dogs with long bodies and short legs, like dachshunds.Young says that Andy is not only a great companion to her, but also to her late husband Robert, who passed away in August. When his health deteriorated, the dog became his source of constant love and compassion . Andy often cozied up to Robert in his recliner.
Andy the dachshund is a constant companion to Loraine Young and was best buddies with Young’s husband Robert before his passing.St. Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey
When Loraine knew something wasn't right with her husband's "best buddy" she took him to Saint Francis Veterinary Center outside Philadelphia where doctors told her he needed emergency spine surgery .

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The procedure was necessary but also very risky, as Andy’s bones and blood vessels all fit into a space as small as a human finger.

Luckily for Andy, Saint Francis surgeons had recently teamed up with doctors at Thomas Jefferson University in a revolutionary program. Andy was to be the first patient — that is, pet patient — to take advantage of new technology that could create a 3D print of his spine to guide doctors just where they needed to go during the operation.
Dr. Magazu studied a 3D printed spine model before operating on Andy the dachshund.Thomas Jefferson University Health Design Lab

These 3D prints have become increasingly used in surgery on humans, especially for complicated procedures like organ transplants. But this was the first time a dog benefited from the technology before undergoing spine surgery.

A 3D print of Andy's spine acted as a road map for Dr. Mark Magazu, showing him in unprecedented detail where to go."When operating you don’t always know what’s on the other side of the tumor," said Dr. Magazu. "But this you can hold it, see every bone, muscle, nerve from every angle," he explained, showing the incredible detail the print provides.

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Andy's surgery was a success but sadly, Loraine's husband Robert passed away last month.
Andy the dachshund received care at Saint Francis Veterinary Center outside Philadelphia.St. Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey
"I certainly wish my husband were here to see it," Young said. "He would have been very happy about it."

Andy is now on the mend, and doing physical therapy twice a week to regain strength in his legs. And incredibly, he is now wagging his tail again.

After his spinal surgery, Andy the dachshund was no longer partially paralyzed.St. Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey

"I think he's doing very well," said Young. "He runs. You know, I try to curtail him a bit. He does run."