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Dog gets 3D-printed skull after vet removes massive tumor

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A dog who lost part of its skull to cancer is now getting international attention.

Researchers at a Canadian University successfully removed a large cancer tumor from a dog's head and replaced the piece of removed skull with a 3D printed plate. (Michelle Oblak)

When Danielle Dymek goes to the barn to feed her horses, her 10-year-old Dachshund Patches usually comes along for the ride. A senior dog, Patches needs some help getting around. For the most part, though, Dymek said her Dachshund has been fairly healthy.

That's why four years ago, when she noticed a small bump on Patches' head, she went straight to the vet.

"They didn't know what it was. It might be a calcium deposit. They weren't sure. We decided if it didn't grow, we weren't going to do anything about it."

Last summer, that bump started to grow fast. It was a cancerous tumor.

"By the time we got into surgery, it was the size of an orange," she recalled.

Patches needed to have a portion of her skull removed.

Dr. Michelle Oblak, a veterinary surgical oncologist with the University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College, worked with Cornell University small-animal surgeon Galina Hayes to remove the tumor. They removed about 70 percent of Patches' skull and replaced the missing bone with a 3D-printed plate, which was made by medical technological company Adeiss.

The university said the procedure was a veterinary first in North America.

Since the surgery, Dymek says she's been getting calls from reporters from across the globe.

"Her surgery, I mean I love my dog, but her surgery from the beginning has been about more than just her because her surgery is going to help other animals. It's going to eventually help humans. It's kind of a big deal all around."

CNN contributed to this report.