Whenever I cover a story about 3D printed medical models that assist surgeons and help communication with patients, I have the feeling no one can argue with this obvious and critical use of the technology. But it’s less common to see a story about this application of the technology in medicine, where you can say that without it, patients would probably die.
Well, this story is an uplifting one about how two teenagers in India were turned away from much needed heart surgeries because the surgeries were too complicated. Both teenagers, Krishna and Izam, suffered from congenital heart disease, and doctors would be taking chances risking highly complex surgeries due to each teens’ unique structural defects.
At Kochi, India’s Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Dr. Mahesh Kappanayil (Pediatric Cardiologist) and Dr. Rajesh Kannan (Radiologist) gave the teens full heart evaluations. It was then that the pediatric cardiac team decided physical models would help the surgeries immensely. Both surgeries took place in August of 2015.
“Sometimes, all the traditional ways of evaluating and planning treatment still fall short. Using these precise models to actually look ‘inside’ the heart, understand the lesions and precisely plan the operations much before the actual surgery was a definite game-changer. I’m proud to be an early adopter of 3D Printing for medical applications in India.”
It was Materialise that helped make the heart models using its HeartPrint service. Two cases that had once been dismissed as being too difficult for doctors to risk now have become case studies for 3D printing’s true life saving abilities.
Vickneswaran Renganathan, Business Development Manager at Materialise, helped facilitate the communication between his company’s engineering team and the AIMS medical team. He describes this kind of work as fulfilling Materialise’s mission statement:
“For Materialise, these two cases are living proof of our mission statement: to work for a better and healthier world. I felt very proud that my role at Materialise allowed me to impact patients’ lives in such a positive way.”
In an interesting twist, 3D printing already made its mark on 19-year-old Krishna’s life. Last year, he assembled his own DIY 3D printer! I am betting that as he heals from surgery and feels better, the technology that once captivated his maker spirit, and then saved his life, will be a part of his future.
And his case will also be remembered as one that shows complex surgeries that seem too risky can perhaps take place through use of 3D printed models. I never tire of writing these incredible stories, but I have to say, this one is one of the most inspiring ones yet.
Let’s hear your thoughts on yet another awesome medical application for this technology. Discuss in the 3D Printed Heart forum thread on 3DPB.com.