TAMPA, Fla. – Veterinarians at a Florida zoo teamed up with a team of experts to create a 3D-printed beak to save the life of a bird believed to have a tumor.
ZooTampa vets worked with doctors, biomedical engineers and veterinary specialists from two universities to remove the tumor from the upper beak of Crescent, a 25-year-old great hornbill, WFTV reported. Team members replaced it with a custom-designed prosthetic, according to WFLA-TV.
Caregivers of the bird had noticed a lesion at the base of her casque, which is the helmetlike-growth on a hornbill’s upper beak, the television station reported.
“This tumor is typically found near the front of the casque in hornbills, but hers was in the back,” Baker said in a news release.
“We asked ourselves, if this was a human, what would we do?” Summer Decker, vice chair for research and innovation at the University of South Florida’s Department of Radiology, said in a statement. “So, we began to plan how to fix Crescent’s casque using the technology we use every day on our human patients — 3D printing.”
Formlabs, a manufacturer of 3D-printing solutions, was consulted to ensure the casque was lightweight and durable for the bird, WFLA reported. Formlabs donated a substance to fit the team’s needs, and the USF Health Radiology department printed a surgical guide and casque on a Formlabs printer designed for health care use, according to the television station.
Dental acrylic and titanium screws were used to attach the 3D-printed casque to Crescent, WTSP reported.
The bird has been doing well since the procedure, zoo officials said.
“An unexpected benefit came when Crescent began preening within hours after surgery,” ZooTampa officials said in its news release. “The Formlabs resin happened to be compatible with the yellow preening oils secreted from the glands above her tail, giving the new casque the same bright glow as her original one.”
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