VCA Animal Hospitals, the nation's largest animal hospital chain, has piloted the use of 3D printing for a veterinary prosthetic for an amputee parrot. Dennis Keith, DVM, DACVR, medical director and radiologist at VCA Animal Referral and Emergency Center of Arizona, was contacted by a colleague from a nearby avian practice about Bandit, a 25-year-old parrot who had lost a part of his leg when it became stuck in his cage. Dr. Keith had the idea to use the center's 3D printer to model a prosthetic leg for Bandit.

Combining his expertise of radiology and his interest in 3D printing, Dr. Keith was able to produce a functionally equivalent limb out of a hard-plastic material. The design of the prosthetic took several months and utilized CT images. Recently, the device was tested for the first time on Bandit with promising results.

"We believe this is the first time that 3D technology has been used to produce a custom limb prosthesis for an amputee parrot patient," said Dr. Keith. "If the final design is working well and has a long track record on him, we can contract with a company to print this out of something more durable, such as titanium. The successful application of 3D printing technology to veterinary care may lead to exciting advances in small animal medicine for the benefit of patients."

3D printers utilize information from CT scans and x-rays along with a computer-aided design program to virtually design two-dimensional drawings or three-dimensional models, which can be created to fit the specific needs of veterinary patients. This information is then applied and utilized by the 3D printer, which can generate an accurate model that can be used in a variety of applications, including prostheses, that can help give injured or deformed animals a chance for a more normal life.

About VCA Animal Referral and Emergency Center of Arizona

VCA Animal Referral and Emergency Center of Arizona offers the highest quality radiology, surgery and internal medicine services, as well as emergency care. Located in Mesa, the center's excellent team of specialists are board-certified in critical care, radiology, surgery, and internal medicine, and supported by experienced emergency veterinarians. The outstanding support staff are trained to the highest standards to help ensure that all patients receive the best in healing care. For more information, visit

About VCA

VCA Animal Hospitals operates more than 650 small animal veterinary hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. The hospitals are staffed by more than 4,500 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians to give pets the very best in medical care, of which over 500 are board-certified specialists who are experts in areas such as Oncology, Cardiology, Emergency & Critical Care, and Surgery for animals. VCA Animal Hospitals provides a full range of general practice services to keep pets well and specialized treatments when pets are ill. For more information, please visit or follow on Twitter @vcapethealth.

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