Did You Know? Medical Technologies Depend on Minerals and Metals
February 11, 2015
As February marks National American Heart Month, we’d like to h...
You may be aware of how critical minerals are to modern medical technologies that keep you and your family healthy. But you might not have considered how minerals have also enabled advances in veterinary medicine that prolong the lives of our four-legged family members.
For example, Florida veterinarians recently saved Rumple, a Havanese puppy, by using a stent to reopen a collapsed pulmonary artery that was obstructing blood flow to his heart. And Rumple isn’t the first pup to benefit from this life-saving procedure.
Many metals serve as the backbone of health technologies for humans and animals alike. These metals are malleable, but strong enough to make delicate and intricate components in high-tech medical devices. Gold, silver and lithium are crucial to cardiac medicine and can be found in pacemakers, defibrillators, CAT scans and stents. Other metals like aluminum, nickel and titanium are used in bone replacement, fortification and additive manufacturing.
With state-of-the-art 3D printing, veterinarians can replace damaged bone with metal plates to mend areas where tumor removal may have left soft spots in the skull. Other bones, especially legs, can be carefully designed and printed to produce highly customized implants to improve the quality of life for our furry loved ones.
It’s not just household pets that benefit from cutting-edge veterinary care. Advanced metal technologies are helping preserve wildlife species all over the world. This year scientists in Brazil used 3D printing to save the life of Gigi, a blue macaw. By giving her a new titanium prosthetic beak, they restored her ability to eat on her own. Veterinary specialists have previously used 3D-printed plastics to save shells for turtles or new beaks for toucans and eagles, but Gigi needed a beak stronger than plastic. Thanks to recent advances in 3D printing, she received the world’s first metal beak.
To learn more about other innovations powered by minerals, click here.