Since the beginning of this year, there seems to be a widening use of 3D printing within the medical field, particularly when dealing with impending heart surgeries. We’ve covered various stories revolving around the use of 3D printed heart models which are able to act as guides for surgeons, both prior, and during complicated procedures.
Perhaps none of these stories are as heartwarming (no pun intended) as the one coming out of Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, located in Upper Manhattan, where a Brooklyn surgeon recently used 3D printing to possibly save a 2-week-old baby’s life.
The baby, who was suffering from a congenital heart defect, required surgery as soon as possible. The heart, which was riddled with holes, and was anything but normal, would have caused major issues for the baby going forward if something was not done.
“The baby’s heart had holes, which are not uncommon with CHD, but the heart chambers were also in an unusual formation, rather like a maze,” said Dr. Emile Bacha, head of cardiac surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, who performed the surgery. “In the past we had to stop the heart and look inside to decide what to do. With this technique, it was like we had a road map to guide us. We were able to repair the baby’s heart with one operation.”
A model of the deformed heart was created using MRI data which was funded by Matthew’s Hearts of Hope, a Sherman based foundation. From there, surgeons prepared the model to be 3D printed, which was also funded by the same gracious foundation. Once the 3D printed heart was available to surgeons, they were able to develop an accurate idea of just what needed to be corrected within the baby’s tiny little heart. Basically it acted as the ultimate preparation tool and guide for what otherwise would have been an extremely complicated surgery. Thanks to 3D printing, the surgery was a success and the baby should lead a relatively normal life.
Every year, 8 out of every 1,000 newborns come into this world with some sort of congenital heart defect. That equates to approximately 35,000 newborns each year in the United States alone. Thanks to technological advancements, and new medical procedures, a good portion of heart defects can either be treated via surgery, or controlled. The use of 3D printing is just improving these odds even more.
Let’s hear your thoughts on another successful heart surgery, thanks to advances in 3D printing technology. Discuss in the 3D printing & heart surgery forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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