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Making use of the latest in 3D printing technology, Dr. Alex zur Linden of the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) is creating models of the equine neck, hip and sacroiliac joints. These models will be used to train practitioners in ultrasound-guided joint injections without needing to use cadavers or practice on live patients.

Ultrasound-guided injections in these areas are challenging to perform, but very useful for diagnosing and treating osteoarthritis in sport and racehorses, by injecting steroids or other similar substances. They are also used for diagnosing lameness, by injecting local anesthetics.

One goal of this project is determine the proper 3D print material to mimic equine bones. Next, the researchers will scan the joints of a cadaver with computed tomography (CT) to create highly accurate digital versions of the joints. The 3D models will be assessed for validity by radiologists, equine surgeons and residents at the OVC. Then they will be used to teach veterinarians how to perform these techniques at educational seminars. Embedded in clear ballistics gel to mimic tissue, practitioners will be able to see the needle and underlying bones as they practice.