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.
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.
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.
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.
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 how 3D printing can help enable your business to become more streamlined and more affordable, email firstname.lastname@example.org – we have experts who can discuss where to start and specific equipment needs for you and your business.
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.
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.
From Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine, 08/18/2020
There are many gateways to the veterinary medical field. For Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) graduate Sean Bellefeuille, it was 3D printing.
“As an undergraduate in biomedical engineering at RIT, I became really passionate about 3D printing,” he says.
He joined a club that specialized in the technology, working with organizations that helped get custom, 3D-printed prosthetics to children with amputations. “That’s where I learned the basics of design and printing,” he says. He continued an in-depth exploration of the technology, studying the market needs and gaps, and discovered that veterinary medicine held huge potential for 3D printing.
Currently, only a handful of companies produce anatomical models and prosthetics for animals, and their products are highly expensive, Bellefeuille explains.
The spark that ignited his business came from a Rochester-area emergency veterinary hospital, which reached out to RIT’s biomedical engineering department in hopes of expertise. They had a difficult orthopedic case — a patient with a rare femoral deformity that needed surgical intervention. To prepare for the procedure, the surgeon wanted a 3D printed model of the bone to examine.
“The department funneled it down to me and couple other students who worked with 3D printing,” says Bellefeuille. “Without knowing how, we said ‘sure we’ll do it’.”
Using a CT scan provided by the veterinarians, Bellefeuille and his colleagues printed a 3D model of the femur. The RIT students were invited to watch the surgery, during which the surgeon paused and asked to look at the femur for reference before making a certain cut. “That was a big moment,” says Bellefeuille. “It was proof that our 3D printed anatomical models delivered a real benefit to a veterinarian in a clinical setting. We figured, if this person uses it, there are definitely others that will use it too.”
This was the beginning of “M3Dimensions” (pronounced “med-dimensions”) Bellefeuille’s start-up biomedical printing company. They are currently working on a business and strategy plan with a goal of formally launching in January 2021.
“Our goal is to increase accessibility for 3D printing technology, 3D models and other types of related tech such as custom cutting guides and templates to help with surgical cuts,” says Bellefeuille. “We’ve identified a demand for devices which would actually attach to the bone to assist the orthopedic surgeon in making more accurate cuts.”
This synergy of biomedical engineering and veterinary medicine also inspired Bellefeuille to pursue the veterinary profession. “I always enjoyed the medical and biological aspects of my undergraduate program,” he says. “And then saw how open the veterinary medical field was — that there was an opportunity to bring in my engineering knowledge.” Bellefeuille ended up shadowing and working at the same emergency veterinary hospital and surgeon whom he had printed the femur for, and from thereon, was inspired to pursue veterinary medicine.
With that career in his sights, Cornell was quickly Bellefeuille’s first choice. “Cornell has always had a great reputation,” he says. “And, being based in Rochester, a lot of the veterinarians I worked with for my business had gone to Cornell and spoke of it highly.” Plus, as a New York state resident, Bellefeuille knew that tuition would be markedly more affordable.
Cornell also strongly appealed to Bellefeuille thanks to personal connections he made prior to applying. “I reached out to [Maurice R. and Corinne P. Greenberg Professor of Surgery] Dr. Rory Todhunter letting him know of my interest, and he invited me to come spend a day with his surgery team,” he says. “I got to spend a day shadowing them, watched some surgeries — it was really great to start a relationship with a well-established surgeon at Cornell.”
Bellefeuille also got to know Jorge Colón ’92, D.V.M. ’95, senior lecturer with the Center for Veterinary Business and Entrepreneurship, who immediately connected him with the Center for Veterinary Business and Entrepreneurship’s resources and introduced him to CVM veterinary entrepreneurs like Drs. Jonathan Cheetham and Rodrigo Bicalho. “It was great to get those connections before starting school,” he says.
Like everyone, Bellefeuille has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Veterinary business slowed down considerably as elective surgeries were canceled or postponed. Rather than go idle, Bellefeuille and his team decided to volunteer their expertise and work with a local Rochester group to 3D print face shields for local hospitals and veterinary practices — donating as many as 25,000 shields in total. “We didn’t have much to do, so we just wanted to figure out a way to help,” Bellefeuille says.
As Cornell slowly begins its reopening process and welcoming students back to campus for the fall 2020 semester, Bellefeuille is excited to embark on this next step of his career. “I’m so excited to learn anatomy and to get that real hands-on knowledge,” he says. He plans to pursue veterinary medicine as his primary profession, potentially in a specialty service, and have his 3D printing business support the work he would do as a veterinarian. “I definitely want to incorporate 3D printing in whatever I’m doing,” he says.
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