Hornbill Prosthesis

Project Contact

Yen Ching-Chiuan
didyc at nus.edu.sg

Cai Bohong
bohong at nus.edu.sg

Project Description

A hornbill at the Jurong Bird Park, diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, has been given a fighting chance to survive with the use of a 3D printed prosthesis. We worked together with specialist veterinarian to replace the cancerous casque with a 3D printed prosthesis. This surgery utilised domain knowledge from specialist veterinarian as well as assistance from our high-tech engineering gadgetry to perform the surgical resection.

To accurately and effectively remove the cancerous tissue in the surgery, we created a customised surgical guide. The surgical guide and prosthesis were designed based on the hornbill’s medical imaging data to ensure they fit the hornbill’s anatomy. The material was chosen because of its biocompatible property. With the help of the customized surgical guide and prosthesis, the surgery for the Great Pied Hornbill was a great success. The bird was eating normally the day after the surgery, and has also started exhibiting natural behaviour. This means that the bird has accepted the prosthesis as part of it. Within 8 weeks of the surgery, the bird is back to the exhibition area.

Dr Xie Shangzhe, Assistant Director, Conservation, Research and Veterinary Services, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said: “This case is a great example of how veterinarians and engineers can work together to utilise science and technology for the treatment of diseases such as cancer in all species, including birds.”