by Patrick Vicente May 26, 2018

Advanced technologies are continuously being used to help endangered animals, from complex medical issues to elimination of poaching.

Layla, a seven-year-old black rhino at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, has suffered from an impacted molar, causing an infection that blocked her sinuses and made breathing difficult. As rhinos breathe only through their noses, this was a potentially life-threatening condition, so the zoo needed to operate.

A CT scan was first required to determine the exact nature of the blockage. The 2,300-pound rhino had to be transported using a forklift from her enclosure in the zoo’s Pachyderm House to the CT scanner inside the building, where it moved around her head three times to create an image. The CT scanner used was BodyTom, the first-ever battery-powered, portable, 32-slice scanner, manufactured and donated by Samsung Electronics subsidiary NeuroLogica.

The image was then sent to TeraRecon, which turned the CT scans into 3D printable models. The 3D printed model was finally submitted to WhiteClouds, which created a detailed 3D print. With WhiteClouds’ “hinge and slice” technique, the surgeons were able to get a fan-like view of the impacted region.

We continue to see growing interest in the impact of 3D printing in veterinary medicine,” said Jerry Ropelato, CEO of WhiteClouds. “As we now provide prints to the veterinary community, we are excited to extend into the zoological space and participate in such a significant, first-of-kind effort for Layla.

The process allowed surgeons to assess the infected mass in Layla’s sinuses, as well as the impacted molar, and plan for removal. On May 7th, Layla underwent a surgery to remove the tooth and the infected tissue that was causing the blockage. A second CT scan revealed that a fragment of tooth still remained, so a second surgery was necessary, but Layla is now recovering nicely.

Layla is said to be the first rhinoceros ever to be CT scanned. “Layla is recovering well from the first surgery that was very successful due to the thorough preparation and surgical planning by our team that was enabled by the 3D printed model,” said Dr. Michael Adkesson, Vice President of Clinical Medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo.


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Patrick Vicente
Patrick Vicente


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