Featured: Innovative Minds in Veterinary Medicine- Alyssa Mages

Med Dimensions sits down for a conversation with Alyssa Mages, Chief Visionary Officer at Empowering Veterinary Teams.

  1. When did you know you wanted to get into veterinary medicine and helping animals? What sparked the interest?

I didn’t think of myself as always wanting to work with animals- but I’ve realized, through similar conversations like this that I in fact, did! Growing up we always had a fish tank, then we added a guinea pig, a turtle, a parakeet, and the house was never without a cat – no dogs, my dad was allergic – and then I fell in love with the ocean. We had a cottage on Cape Cod that we rented yearly and after my 1st whale watch when I was 4, I was hooked. I finished my degree in marine biology and moved to the Florida Keys where I taught marine biology, swam/scuba’d with sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, pilot whales, and a whole host of other marine creatures – HEAVEN! But I soon realized that I wanted to do more FOR them. The original plan was to be a marine veterinarian, but my professional path detoured and pivoted several times. I couldn’t be happier with where I’ve landed.

  1. In addition to being a rockstar vet tech, you’re also a business owner. What’s the best way to describe what EVT does?

You’re too kind! I’ve been a CVT since 2012, but in the veterinary profession since 2004. Over the years I saw & experienced firsthand what it was like to have a structured & supportive training program, and when it wasn’t there, I wasn’t the only one who could feel its lack.

EVT was founded to ensure that every member of the veterinary support team – CSR, assistant, veterinary technician – has the tools, knowledge and guidance to ensure that they not only do what they love, they love what they do. We cannot empower anyone, but we can provide the tools, programs and ultimately the skills for them to empower themselves. We focus primarily on crafting custom training programs for veterinary practices that ensure a standardized, streamlined approach to growth and development so that team members have a clear understanding of what they can do and how they can do it. This not only supports the individuals, but the practice, and ultimately our profession as a whole.

  1. How do you marry the role of vet tech and serial entrepreneur? In other words, how are you making sure that the labs and other educational pieces you provide are helping vet techs?

I don’t see these two roles in opposition- on the contrary, a veterinary technician is inherently an innovative individual. We must be in order to make things work in sometimes less than ideal situations! To ensure that the work I do now, being more on the outside of clinical practice, stays relevant is by keeping involved. Through mentorship, state VMA participation, and continuously seeking the latest and greatest procedures and methodologies, I keep myself and my team up to date and engaged. I also reach out to the other innovators in our field and see what they are up to, how we can help and/or enhance the work that we’re both doing. No more competition, we’ve gotta collaborate to ensure the veterinary industry doesn’t just survive, it thrives.

  1. What do you see as the future of veterinary medicine for vet techs?

I see them AS the future of veterinary medicine. Can anyone really picture a functional and healthy practice, or an evolved industry provider, or an academic institution without these individuals? I cannot, they’re vital & integral to the overall success of the profession. And for them to fulfill this, we must ensure that the longevity of their roles within veterinary medicine continue to evolve, expand, and be inclusive for ALL peoples. Embrace the changes – telemedicine, integrative approaches, and so on – and then be a part of making it happen. 

  1. When you’re giving a presentation to other vet techs, or teaching a lab that you put together, what is the feeling inside of you?

I live for the “A-HA!” moments, and being able to see that happen live is absolutely incredible. I love to learn new things & to be able to take that and pass it forward to someone else is the greatest gift.

  1. How did you get where you are today?

With a lot of love and support from my family and friends, and never giving up. I’m very fortunate to have a partner that is incredibly supportive, children that cheer me on, parents that pushed me from a young age and continue to be my guides, and an amazing group of friends that are always in my corner. The never giving up part doesn’t mean that I haven’t been discouraged or hit some dead-ends – I have and have the bruises to show for it! But I’ve always had this desire to do more, be more, and make a difference in this world and I strive to do that every day.  

  1. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? (if you have any!)

I try hard to make sure I do! I’m a singer/songwriter – sing in a Tom Petty tribute band (lead/backup vocals, flute and percussion) and do some open-mic nights with a buddy of mine, love it. And when the weather cooperates I’m out with my kiddos on a hike, taking the SUP out, and just generally soaking up nature whenever I/we can.

Follow Alyssa Mages on LinkedIn here.

Follow Empowering Veterinary Teams on LinkedIn here.

Visit Empowering Veterinary Teams’ website here.

Follow Med Dimensions on LinkedIn here.

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Feautured: Innovative Minds in Veterinary Medicine- Johnny Uday

An interview with Dr. Johnny Uday, a leading mind in innovative 3D medicine.

1) When did you know you wanted to get into veterinary medicine and helping animals?

When I was a kid, we took our sick pet to the vet. I was so happy that my little dog was going to get help, and I thought to myself, I want to do this when I grow up too.

2) You’ve worked in both human and veterinary medicine. How does your work translate between these two fields?

As veterinarians, we have to study many different species, from shrimps to rhinos, and humans are just another type of mammal really, so diving deeper into our species is complementary and fascinating at the same time for me.

Having said that, the interaction between veterinary medicine and human medicine is of paramount importance, given that many devices and medical tools are tested on animals before achieving approval for human use.

And when these procedures, techniques, devices etc. are perfected on humans, we can find ways to bring them back to the animal area, where the original product and solution started.

That is why veterinary medicine and human medicine go hand in hand.

3) How does it feel when you see a cutting guide or implant that you designed being used successfully?

It’s a dream come true. I thought it would be so amazing to see something I designed helping to improve lives, and luckily now I have seen that many times, and every single time it makes me smile and feel that I have a purpose in my life.

4) What do you see as the future of veterinary medicine and 3D printing in your home country of Ecuador?

This technology has been a game changer, not just in my country but in the whole world. I’m confident it will become a paramount part of the medical field, and hopefully I will be part of that development with my work.

5) You do a lot of pro-bono work. Who are you helping and what drives you to continue to do this work?

Sadly, Covid hit hard around the world, especially in developing countries like Ecuador. My situation, luckily, is better than a lot of people around here, and I know I can help in many cases- no matter how big or small-, so when I can help, I do. 

Probably it is something related to ego too, when someone is grateful and praises you, however, as long as you are helping someone I believe that is a good thing.

6) How did you get where you are today?

Curiosity and obsession. I mean, I cannot say it felt like “hard” work- because I’m lucky, I really enjoy what I do. It feels more like a pleasure activity than work really.

7) What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? (if you have any!)

I’m a fairly decent dancer, (according to me).

I think physical activities are so important in life; I could spend hours and hours in front of a computer, but that is detrimental for your health.

My brain needs proper oxygenation for working at its top level, and dancing provides me that, and also encompasses creativity, fun, and exercise.

Follow Dr. Johnny Uday on LinkedIn here.

Follow Med Dimensions on LinkedIn here.

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Featured: Innovative Minds In Veterinary Medicine- Will Byron

A Sit Down Interview with Will Byron, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder at Med Dimensions.

1. What has inspired you to help animals?
From before I was even born, my parents had been doing animal rescue which meant I was born in a life full of, and fulfilled by, animals. It ranged from things as small as fish to as large as horses, and dozens of different types in-between. With parents both in the medical field, it meant we got the “broken pets” that people dumped or couldn’t care for medically. Watching these animals being nurtured back to health, and my parents doing the same for people, ingrained a desire to find ways to help those who can’t always help themselves.

2. You mentioned growing up with “broken pets” and watching them be nurtured back to health.What’s it like knowing your work and education has been to help animals?
To be frank, its fulfilling to know that I can still help pets while being involved in really high tech stuff. I always struggled to see how I could blend all my interests and still be in touch with my passion for animals. I thought I would need to go after a job would give me the financial means to do so, but now I get to help pets everyday AND its everything I, as a self proclaimed “enginerd”, love to do and tinker with.

3. When you see a surgical cutting guide that Med Dimensions made being used in a procedure, what is that feeling like?
I can’t really find the right word- beyond flabbergasted! The fact we can help pets through technology that is so new and just coming to light in human medicine, is beyond what I dreamed possible until a few years ago. On top of that, having spent those years hearing the stories, seeing the stress in the OR, and then hearing how these cutting guides really helped or even so far as “making the surgery possible”, leaves me feeling like I’m dreaming.

4. When did you discover your engineering experience would help you create products to assist vets and people’s pets?
A bit of backstory is necessary here; I came into undergrad dead set on making the next generation of prosthetics. I was convinced there was no other way, no other thing I ever wanted to do. I thought that was my new reality after I joined a human focused prosthesis lab working with our Co-Founder and CEO Sean Bellefueille. When that lab closed down, Sean and I decided that was not going to be the end of it, we spent a lot of time figuring out how to make this into a club. Through some of resources from that lab, and people like Jade Meyers from RIT, the club came to fruition and we were connected with some people and a pet or two in need. The details are muddy on how it all happened, but eventually the club was running more projects for pets in need than people. There was no single point in that process where I just knew, but eventually I decided I loved the pets part of the work and I think I could do this forever, because it seemed like pets were really overlooked. A few more years of doing that work, and a local veterinary surgeon reaching out to us for help on a angular limb deformity case then opened my eyes to the fact I could help pets by helping their vets! It really was that case that started a cascade of events that lead me to know I wanted to use my engineering skills to help pets and vets.

5. What motivates you to continue your work at Med Dimensions on a day-to-day basis?
I think the drive largely comes from the life long passion of helping pets, and trying to manifest that as a career, alongside my love for exploring new technologies or new ways to use it. When I take a step back to look at his from a 3rd person perspective, I’m doing something that satisfies a core value, I’m doing something I have loved my whole life and was a huge portion of that life growing up, and I’m getting to do this all in the realm of hobbies and technologies that I love exploring. How could you not feel motivated to get up in the morning, or stay up late in the evening for those of us who claim to be nocturnal, when you hit a trifecta like that? I really can’t envision something more perfect for me to be doing with my life. So the shorter version; because I love what I’m doing to my core.

6.What is your favorite pastime with pets?
Show me a a mountain to hike and a dog by my side, and I couldn’t be happier! Being outside is my escape, and an accompanying pets is the cherry on top. Somewhat ironic for the person saying they love high tech stuff, but there is something about the calm of nature, and the unspoken (quite literally) communications between pet and person that make the chaos of the world, the rings of messages, and the hubbub of life a distant worry for a short time.

Follow Will Byron on LinkedIn here.

Follow Med Dimensions on LinkedIn Here.

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Disrupting Medical Education and Surgical Procedures with 3D Printing

Med Dimensions produces 3D models for the education, preparation, and assistance of surgical procedures for veterinary doctors, clinicians, and teachers.

From Chris Morgan at Matterhackers, Inc. – March 22, 2022

Located near Rochester, New York, Med Dimensions is a small startup created by two pet-loving engineers, Sean Bellefeuille and Will Byron, from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2019. Started as a campus club that was dedicated to 3D printing and helping others, Med Dimensions is a team that consists of professional designers, engineers, and business specialists that strive to find ways to improve the lives of surgeons, pets, and pet owners.

Focused primarily on veterinary medicine, the Med Dimensions team produces three-dimensional models for the education, preparation, and assistance in surgical procedures for veterinary doctors, clinicians, and teachers.

TPLO Guides and Trainers

The first focus of Med Dimensions, education, is geared toward creating models for the classroom to instruct a new generation of vets to be more prepared for common, and uncommon, surgical procedures. Vet students are sometimes deprived of hands-on training in many facets of a typical practice. Med Dimensions takes real anatomy and pathology and transforms it into a three-dimensional model for any type of procedure in any specialty, providing vital hands-on models for everything from bronchoscopies, intubations, suturing pads, dental trainers, and more.

Armed with more relevant, real-world models gives a new generation of vet students a leg up on previous classes. Using different materials in the fabrication of their educational models, Med Dimensions is able to replicate the look, feel, and performance of real anatomy. These models can be manipulated to test implant placement, practice techniques, and build confidence to treat animals safely and more effectively.

Educational Consult with Med Dimensions 3D Models

The second focus is preparation; Med Dimensions can create pre-operative models for specific cases pre-surgery so the veterinarian is able to see and feel what is occurring before surgery Because they use materials that feel and behave like real pathology, pre-operative models can be used for practice or for reference prior to surgery, saving time and money in the operating room. Director of Business Development, Michael Campbell explains, “From the beginning, Med Dimensions started this endeavor to help those involved in the surgery of animals get great outcomes.”

“Sometimes it’s simply not enough to see a two-dimensional scan and get all the information you need going into surgery. The best outcomes are served by three-dimensional, real-world scanned and 3D printed models that a surgeon can hold in their hand and not just have an educated guide, but an exact replica of an issue before making a single incision. That’s the kind of power we want to give to the teacher, the clinician, and the surgeon – we want them to be assured that they have the absolute best information about a procedure so they can affect the best outcome possible. We are also sensitive to the fact that having a veterinary practice is a business. Using our models, the clinicians are able to save time on many surgeries, as well as reduce the cost of those surgeries. They also enhance patient outcomes, making many more pet owners happy that their pets are feeling better post-op.”

Their third focus is, of course, performing surgeries. Not only do Med Dimensions create pre-operative models for general and specific surgeries, but they also work with veterinarians to fabricate patient-specific cutting guides and other custom surgical tools that can save time and money for patients and facilities alike. Shaving 20-30 minutes off a procedure, replicated over several procedures a year results in thousands of dollars in savings.

There are also technical advantages these tools can provide. A custom hip arthroplasty cutting guide can make it easier to replicate good cuts and measurements, allowing a surgeon to achieve better and more predictable outcomes in the operating room. In addition, a custom cutting guide can help steer a surgeon away from important structures in a certain area, specifically nerves, and arteries near a joint space.

Med Dimensions also works with the renowned surgeon, Dr. Johnny Uday, a leader in 3D printed guides and implants, to bring custom designs for surgical tools to life. With many years of experience in building custom implants in the human and veterinary fields, he speaks on the use of 3D modeling in the medical field, specializing in custom surgical applications.

From a business standpoint, the engineers and designers at Med Dimensions use their skills to help vet clinicians gain the best outcomes for their patients. As a ‘third arm’ in surgical preparation, Med Dimensions provides a cutting-edge service that up until recently, was almost impossible to do on an individual patient by patient basis.

Med Dimensions Pre-Op Model for Dr. Laurence Mermelstein at Long Island Spine Specialists (human)

Michael Campbell explains, “Again we look at scalability and also being extremely agile – previously to get a specific, custom model for a patient would have outpaced the cost of the surgery and the time turnaround was monumental – months on average. There simply were no manufacturing capabilities to quickly turn out an anatomically correct model at this low cost that we see now. The 3D printers, the software, and the materials – not to mention the engineers and designers that implement the process – none of those was within a reasonable cost in the past. Now with fast, in-house additive manufacturing of one-off models for specific patients, as well as using multiple farm printers to create stable educational models, all without the need to keep stock on the shelf or order massive quantities of materials to produce products that may never even be used, we’ve taken a very needed component of veterinary medicine, and soon human medicine, and made it affordable and sustainable.”

There are no giant warehouses we need to fill, we create models and custom models as needed and get them out the door. We don’t need shelves full of products for our doctors and clinicians to see more positive outcomes for their patients. That saves them time and money and it saves us time and money – it’s a huge win-win, especially for the animals!”

With the use of 3D printing, Med Dimensions are making huge strides in enabling better outcomes for animal patients and creating an industry where one didn’t exist before. By utilizing quick, iterate capabilities of small-scale additive manufacturing, Med Dimensions is bringing better solutions to veterinarians, and soon human surgeons, faster and more affordably than ever before.

To learn more about Med Dimensions and the many services it offers, visit their website here: https://www.med-dimensions.com/

You can also visit their social media sites:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/meddimensions/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meddimensions/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Med_dimensions/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MedDimensions/

To learn how 3D printing can help enable your business to become more streamlined and more affordable, email sales@matterhackers.com – we have experts who can discuss where to start and specific equipment needs for you and your business.

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Long Island Spine

A Case Study in Pre-Surgical Planning

One of the largest applications of 3D modeling and design in medicine is pre-surgical planning.

In early December 2021, Dr. Laurence Mermelstein at Long Island Spine Specialists in New York contacted Med Dimensions about a complex spine case.

A new patient presented with severe pain and limited mobility in his low back. He previously had been through two spine procedures and a hip procedure that had not solved his issues. In the second back surgery, the doctors removed old hardware and attempted a spinal fusion, but it failed over time, as the fused levels sheared and shifted the vertebral body both anteriorly and laterally, causing spinal rotation.  Somehow, this patient was still substantially mobile.

Somehow, this patient was still walking into his office!

X-Rays showed the patient’s deformities in two dimensional images- but with multiple deformities collocated, it was impossible to see the full extent of the deformation.

Dr. Mermelstein approached Med Dimensions to turn his two dimensional challenge into a three dimensional solution.

“I was able to plan reduction maneuvers for this patient, as the vertebral body had been shifted and there was an element of rotation. This twisted anatomy was challenging, and the model being accurate helped me plan how to piece it together.”

Dr. Laurence Mermelstein, Long Island Spine Specialists

We were able to take this patient’s images and turn them into an accurate model for Dr. Mermelstein that replicated precisely what he would encounter in the operating room. Collaborating with our partner Vent Creativity, Med Dimensions printed a 3D model that looks, feels, and moves like real bone. The surgeon was able to minimize the unknowns he had prior to the surgery.

With this model, he was able to determine that a posterior surgical approach was ideal, and further that a lateral/anterior approach for operation would potentially be harmful to the patient. (Below are post operative x-rays)

Flash forward to today, this patient is up, moving, and doing well! Pre-operative models for planning and practice are becoming the new standard for patient care, and Med Dimensions is on the forefront of this technology.

Contact us to prepare for your next case!

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The OR Times

Week of 1/19/2020

This week in the Times we’re going to share a story from Med Dimensions co-founder, Sean Belefeuille:

A local surgeon we have been working with reached out and asked for a femur and tibia/fibula 3D model for one of his patients, a medium sized and mixed breed dog. Dr. Hofmann suspected deformities in both the tibia and the femur. The main issue was several bone deformities that could affect patient movement and cause pain, eventually resulting in osteochondral arthritis and a plethora of other orthopedic complications if it were to go untreated. The surgical challenge in this case with having multiple deformities is that it would require the surgeon to do multiple procedures during the same surgery. This increases the surgery time, the risk to the patient and the cost to the family. After reviewing the models we provided him with, the surgeon determined one of the deformations was not as severe as he had thought while reviewing the imaging scan (CT). He decided the second procedure could be cut out, decreasing the surgery time and the cost of hospital stay. 


The actual process of repairing the issue was very similar to the first, a sort of deformation that he cut out a wedge to better align the bone. The procedure of a corrective osteotomy was a tremendous success in pre-op management, during surgery, and post-op follow up.

Med Dimensions has the capability to suit any and all surgeons needs through only the highest quality products and services!

Please leave a comment if you have any questions, and reach out to Fred at fred@m3dimensions.com if there is anything you’d like him to cover!

-Michael Campbell

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The OR Times

Week of 1/12/2020

During shoulder arthroscopy, it’s extremely common to find some form of a bone spur on the acromion that is impinging the rotator cuff, typically supraspinatus, that is causing pain on patients. This pathology can appear when using radiology pre-op, and make it easier to find rotator cuff tears when in the sub-acromial space. However, occasionally an x-ray that shows a bone spur can be very misleading.

I was with a surgeon that was operating on a 46 year old male suffering from textbook acromioclavicular joint impingement symptoms, as well as a possible rotator cuff tear. Interestingly enough, the pre-op radiology report saw a slightly odd bone spur on medial side of the acromion, so the surgeon thought that it was going to be a simple distal clavicle excision and SAD. What we found through the microscope was a previous acromial fracture from when the patient was a child that had healed, but had also calcified over, so it was impinging on the shoulder in a major way and the main source of his pain.

Common Sub-Acromial Decompression with a bone spur.

This discovery did not necessarily affect the surgery in any way, outside of taking longer than expected, but left the surgeon upset because he had sent the students observing him for the day home. Acromial fractures are uncommon, personally I have seen thousands of shoulder cases and this was the first fracture of its kind I have seen in my career, so the teaching moment was lost. The simple solution that Med Dimensions could have assisted with is a pre-op model of the surrounding osteology of the glenohumeral joint, so this surgeon could have seen this odd x-ray in 3D and been prepared to teach his students in the moment, rather than just having to tell them about the unique case he had just completed.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions, and reach out to me at fred@m3dimensions.com if there is anything you’d like me to cover!

-Fred

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The OR Times

Week of 1/5/20

In early December, I was in a case on a human 32 year old patient with anterior labrum of the hip and femeroacetabular defect pathologies. Going into the operation the surgeon noticed one large defect on the femoral head from the original x-ray, and we had at least some kind of game plan going into the case. We were going to use dried bone chips with a native PRP and Bone Marrow injection to fill in this defect and the surrounding tissues, as well as several suture anchors to repair the labrum. It all seemed to be working until we got into the joint and started cleaning up the joint space.

Figure depicting simple hip joint

What we originally thought was one large defect turned out to be several smaller defects and one gigantic defect in the femoral head, roughly the size of a quarter, not to mention 2 cysts on the acetabulum. Our original plan would work for the labrum, but left our femoral defect issues up in the air. We used a biocartilage scaffold that we had in the surgery center for the cysts on the acetabulum, and used the cancellous bone chips/PRP/Bone Marrow mix for the smaller defects. However, the large defect was only cleaned out because we were not prepared for the size of the hole in this patient’s femur and did not have the necessary tools or implants available to fix this issue.

If we had sent for a pre-op model with a CT-Scan, there is no question that we would have been more prepared for this case and it would have given us a much better chance of fixing this patient’s pathology and allow us to be more efficient while in the joint space.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions, and reach out to me at fred@m3dimensions.com if there is anything you’d like me to cover!

Happy New Year from Med Dimensions!

-Fred

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The OR Times

M3Dimensions Logo

Week of 12/15/2019

Welcome to the OR Times! This forum will discuss several hot topics in surgery, and how we may be able to assist with all kinds of growing problems. I’m a professional technical consultant for a plethora of medical devices, and can provide real OR insight as to how pre-op products can totally change the trajectory of success of surgery. I will be writing a post weekly, however there may be an occasional relevant article or story provided by a different author.

For my first article I want to address incomplete fractures and osteochondral deformities of weight bearing bones/joints on canine patients. One of the many complications that can arise during these surgeries is blood loss- specifically in trauma cases; the more time during surgery, the more chances there are for blood loss and likelihood of a blood transfusion. These issues only put more stress on the surgeons, increased OR time, higher infection rate, and increased cost for the owners of the animals.

What can be done to prevent this is either:

  1. new and expensive instrumentation/video
  2. detail oriented pre-op models

There is obviously plenty of evidence of the benefit of new instrumentation and technology, but it can be very expensive. Where pre-op models can prove their worth is in their cost-effective nature and practicality. For example, a specific canine case in 2017.

Pictured above is a distal femur osteochondral defect on a canine patient. In the surgeons hand is the model used for reference.

The above model was used for making practice cuts pre-surgery, and later used as a visual aid during the difficult surgery. The young dog had a distal femoral deformation which lead to patellar subluxation. The surgeon provided CT scans of the dog, Med Dimensions isolated and converted the femur into a 3D printable STL file. Once the femur model was printed, it was provided to the surgeon, who used the model in pre-op strategy and as a reference point during the surgery. The use of this model lead to a solution for all of the problems I mentioned in the second paragraph for this specific case.

This is just one example of how I’ve seen these models be beneficial before, during, and after surgery. I’m looking forward to sharing more of these seemingly endless success stories with you! Please leave a comment if you have any questions, and reach out to me at fred@m3dimensions.com if there is anything you’d like me to cover!

-Fred

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