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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DVM360- Innovative 3D models advancing veterinary medicine

In a dvm360® interview, Sean Bellefeuille, CEO and co-founder of Med Dimensions, described the significant advantages of the company’s 3D models for the veterinary industry.

In this dvm360® interview, second-year student at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Sean Bellefeuille, CEO and co-founder of Med Dimensions, detailed the 3D surgical and educational models the company develops that are designed to benefit veterinary professionals and patients while advancing veterinary medicine.

View the video below for the entire discussion. The following is a partial transcript.

Sean Bellefeuille: [The products] benefit the surgeon’s confidence, their preparedness, as well as the patient that’s getting the surgery done on them. On the educational side, [they] really benefit new [graduate veterinary] students as well as residents that are training. There’s a big problem in veterinary medicine today where new [graduates] lack a lot of confidence and sometimes basic abilities. So our models allow them to practice, get some confidence, get some of that muscle memory so that the first time they’re doing a procedure it’s not on a dog or a cat.

See the full interview at dvm360.com!

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Med Dimensions and Johnny Uday Announce Partnership to Design and Bring to Market Custom 3D Printed Guides and Implants

Med Dimensions, LLC., a disruptive medical company focused on the creation of innovative, anatomic solutions, and Dr. Johnny Uday, a leading veterinarian in 3D printing custom surgical tools, today announce a partnership to bring to market custom 3D printed surgical guides and implants.

Dr. Uday has years of experience in designing custom implants for both veterinary and human applications worldwide. “Med Dimensions is a young, courageous, innovative company with a great future; which inspires me to convey all my creativity and experience. We have great things on the horizon together.”

“We are incredibly excited to be working with Dr. Uday. Dr. Uday has a unique perspective that combines veterinary medicine, engineering and artistic design,” says Sean Bellefuille, CEO of Med Dimensions. “This perspective allows him to tackle problems with a level of creativity and expertise that fosters innovation, one of Med Dimension’s main goals.”

Med Dimensions focuses on taking two-dimensional problems and turning them into three-dimensional solutions, for educational and surgical purposes. This partnership only will strengthen the Med Dimensions portfolio, and allows Dr. Uday’s designs to reach a greater audience, especially in the United States and Canada.

To learn more about how Med Dimensions is creating Innovative, Anatomic Solutions please visit www.med-dimensions.com.

To see some of Dr. Johhny Uday’s work, please visit his social media pages. (LinkedinInstagramYouTube)

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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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3D-Printed Replica of Brain Aneurysm Helps Guide Surgical Repair

One of first reported uses of the technology for a cerebrovascular malformation

From the Cleveland Clinic, 06/05/2019

In April 2019, clinicians in Cleveland Clinic’s Cerebrovascular Center performed one of the first reported brain aneurysm repairs guided by preoperative and intraoperative use of a 3D-printed replica of the aneurysm.

The patient was an otherwise healthy man in his 50s with a large (12-mm) aneurysm of the anterior communicating artery. He underwent a complication-free open craniotomy with clipping and was on track to a full functional recovery several weeks after the surgery.

The 3D-printed model (shown with a clip in photo below) was produced at actual size based on angiograms of the aneurysm processed by radiologists and other members of a multidisciplinary team in Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute. To date, the team has generated over 100 3D-printed anatomic models to help guide complex surgeries ranging from liver transplants to congenital heart defect repairs.

An unprecedented window into anatomy

“I was able to hold the aneurysm model in my hand, which greatly enhanced my understanding of the patient’s anatomy and enabled us to develop a truly patient-specific surgical plan,” says Mark Bain, MD, MS, Head of Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery and lead surgeon on the case.

“The 3D-printed model allowed me to visualize the surgical approach before I made a single incision,” he continues, “enabling me to select the clip size in advance and know the exact location of the important daughter branches coming out of the aneurysm.”

The model also gave Dr. Bain a preoperative heads-up about an artery that was stuck to the aneurysm, which allowed him to determine that it was clear of the neck of the aneurysm where the clip would be applied. “It was really helpful to know that going in and not be blindsided by that artery at the time of surgery,” he shares. “I was genuinely surprised by how helpful the model was.”

That utility continued into the intraoperative phase, where the model was at the surgical team’s side for reference throughout the procedure, Dr. Bain notes, “allowing us to check and recheck the anatomy.”

A bevy of benefits

Dr. Bain identifies at least five distinct benefits that 3D-printed anatomical replicas promise for appropriate future cases.

1) Better operative planning, with potential for fewer complications. Dr. Bain’s comments above illustrate the clear benefits for preoperative planning and intraoperative visualization. Whether these lead to improved outcomes is something his group is eager to study in the months and years ahead. “We’re starting a couple of studies of this question,” he says.

2) Potential for reduced operative time. He estimates that the advance planning made possible by the model in this first case shortened the operative time by about half “because I knew exactly where to go and where to put the clip, and I already had the clip selected.”

3) Better patient education. Before his operation, the case patient and his family members were able to hold the model in their hands while Dr. Bain explained the procedure. “It was very valuable in helping them fully understand why we were choosing the procedure we did,” he says, adding that this promises to enhance patient satisfaction.

4) Value for resident and fellow training. “Residents present for this case said the anatomy of the aneurysm was so much clearer to them during the procedure by dint of having the model as an intraoperative reference,” notes Dr. Bain, shown in the photo below holding the model in hand as he discusses the procedure with trainees. “And one of our departing fellows raved about how much clearer she could see the anatomy thanks to the 3D model and how valuable this will be for training new physicians.”

5) Likely utility in procedure selection. Although the 3D replica didn’t influence procedure choice in this case, Dr. Bain says 3D-printed models likely will for some future patients. “I can foresee instances where the replica will reveal, for example, that a particular branch would not be appropriate for planned stenting or that a particular spot would be unlikely to hold a coil well,” he explains. “This may help improve our selection of cases or choice of procedure.” He adds that this includes decisions on when to use an endovascular versus open surgical approach. To that end, his team plans to generate hollow 3D-printed aneurysm replicas to help explore catheter navigation inside vessels for cases where endovascular procedures are planned.

How broadly to apply the technology?

While the case above was ideal for introducing 3D printing technology because of the large size of the aneurysm (12 mm), Dr. Bain says the technology can be used to replicate aneurysms of sizes down to 5 mm or even smaller. “Some of the branches in this first model were under 1 mm and we could still see them well,” he notes. “This technology has the resolution to pick up details at very small scale.”

So if aneurysm size is not much of a limiting factor, how will his team decide when to use this technology moving forward? “That’s one of the things we’ll be looking to explore in the studies we’re getting underway surrounding this,” he says. He explains that his team is pursuing grant funding to continue generation of 3D-printed replicas so they can accumulate enough data to begin to assess effects on outcomes and overall costs.

The cost of 3D printing is one limiting factor, as is time. Because it typically takes a couple of weeks to generate a replica, the technology is limited to nonurgent elective cases.

In an ideal world, Dr. Bain says, “I’d love to take every vascular malformation for which we get good imaging — arteriovenous malformations, fistulas, aneurysms — and send those images off for 3D printing. But we’ll have to see where the data fall to determine how broadly this should be applied.”

Link: https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/3d-printed-replica-of-brain-aneurysm-helps-guide-surgical-repair/

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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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