Additive Manufacturing Strategies

3D Printed Hearts: Children’s Memorial Health Institute Uses In-House 3D Lab to Improve Patient Care

ST Medical Devices

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As a country, Poland has shown an expansive and impressive interest in 3D printing. From successful manufacturers like ZMorph and Zortrax to satellite and automotive companies, a unique and varied commitment to the technology has often put the country at the forefront.

3D printing has also made a definitive mark at the Children’s Memorial Health Institute in Warsaw, thanks to the efforts of Polish pediatric cardiologist Prof. Grażyna Brzezińska-Rajszys, MD, PhD, and Adam Koleśnik, MD, who is a pediatric cardiologist as well as a cardiovascular morphologist.

Together, the two doctors set up a comprehensive 3D lab at Children’s Memorial, which functions as one of the largest pediatric hospitals in the country. There, doctors take cases regarding congenital heart disease which are both challenging and rare—calling for the use of progressive technologies such as 3D printing. With new solutions at their fingertips, the medical team is better equipped to help patients who present challenging cases.

For over a year now, the medical team in the Pediatric Cardiology Department has been creating anatomical models to help them improve patient care. A team from Materialise helped them set up the 3D lab, traveling to Poland to assist with training the team in 3D printing workflow.

To date, they have created 20 3D printed hearts, along with numerous virtual 3D designs. Using Materialise Mimics software, models and designs are created via converted CT scans and then used for pre-planning purposes, training, education (for patients and their families, as well as medical students) and more. 3D printed medical models can even be used as guides during surgery. Use of such models has broad-reaching applications and benefits in studying patient-specific anatomies.

“It’s in pre-surgical planning, or interventional planning and decision-making where we see the greatest added value of 3D anatomical models,” says Dr. Koleśnik.

The medical team has seen the value of 3D printing in improving medical care for their patients as they’ve worked on the following:

  • Double outlet right ventricle (DORV) cases
  • Muscular ventricular septal defects (VSD)
  • Common arterial trunks
  • Coarctations
  • Melody valve procedures

“There’s an increase in demand for 3D PDFs from the medical team. We share the files daily because my team sees the value this advanced visualization brings,” says Dr. Koleśnik.

Dr. Koleśnik has even begun including 3D PDFs in standard medical documentation, explaining that even just the virtual models often allow them to come up with better surgical options.

If you are part of a medical team that is thinking about setting up a 3D printing lab, Dr. Koleśnik recommends doing the required homework. It’s imperative to consider and evaluate the number of and types of difficult cases being dealt with in the medical setting. It could be more prudent to outsource 3D printing work to a service such as Materialise HeartPrint.

“Working with medically cleared software is essential,” adds Dr. Koleśnik.

Discuss in the Children’s Memorial forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source / Images: Materialise]

 

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