Julie Maes March 10, 2016

Materialise recently attended PICS-CSI Asia, the leading conference on congenital, structural and valvar heart diseases. Here is an account of some of the trends our team picked up on.


3D and engineering technologies

3D Printing

3D Printing was one of the hot topics at the conference, and it wasn’t just talk either. Two live cases were performed at the event, supported with 3D-printed models from Materialise: a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) procedure and a Percutaneous Pulmonary Valve Implantation (PPVI) intervention. The patient-specific models engaged the audience and woke their appetite for discussion, as they helped the onlookers to gain a deeper understanding of the procedure. Dr. Mansour Aljufan also spoke about the value of medical 3D Printing in the field of interventional cardiology, which led to an animated debate about research on clinical and economical benefit.

Dr. Mansour AlJufan, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Saudi Arabia, on 3D innovations
Dr. Mansour AlJufan, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Saudi Arabia, on 3D innovations

3D ultrasound

Ultrasound imaging is one of the most affordable and available modalities in cardiology. A growing number of clinicians are now taking their ultrasound imaging to the next step by turning to 3D ultrasound, as this technique can provide valuable additional real time information about the patient’s anatomy in 3D. Looking at a beating heart in 3D can lead to important insights on the patient’s heart function (in particular the heart valves).


Pressures and flows in the heart are some of the most important parameters to evaluate the function of a patient’s heart. That’s why Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) are used to predict and simulate the functional outcome of interventions. With CFD, clinicians aim to predict the outcome of different clinical approaches to help them understand the impact of each one on the blood pressure and flow in the heart.

3D overlay on fluoroscopy

The 3D reconstructions of pre-op imaging (CT or MRI) or of intra-op imaging (3DRA) visualize the 3D relationships of the different anatomical structures that are key to the procedure. A recent innovation, 3D reconstructions can now be registered on the fluoroscopy images that guide an intervention, enabling the surgeon to transfer the information provided by the 3D models. This way, clinicians can visualize the anatomy without adding contrast, and they can receive continuous guidance during the procedure. The growing popularity of this technique holds the promise of providing easier procedures, with less contrast for the patient, which may result in better outcomes.


Asian companies bringing devices to market

Our cardiovascular experts didn’t fail to notice that new medical device companies were getting ready to go to market:

  • Venus Medtech is a company based in China that offers aortic and pulmonary transcatheter valves. With their aortic valve, they were the first to start a clinical trial on TAVI in China.
  • Lifetech Scientific is another Chinese medical device company specialized in occluders, that can be used for Atrial Septal Defects (ASD), Ventrical Septal Defects (VSD) and Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) closures for instance.
  • Vascular Innovations is a Thai manufacturer that is also specialized in occluders.

    Notwithstanding these great advances, it’s still a challenge for Asian physicians to get access to novel device technology, since few devices are currently registered in Asian countries. The majority of medical device suppliers first get clearance for new devices in the US and European market, preventing the Asian hospitals from catching up with these latest technologies.


Medical 3D Printing is ready to take off

Due to their rapidly increasing population growth, Asian hospitals have incredibly high volumes of interventions and surgeries compared to European hospitals. Pulmonary valve and TAVI are the main cardiac interventions in this region. Complex procedures are currently prepared based on standard imaging such as 2D and 3D Ultrasound and stacks of 2D images such as CT and MRI.

3D innovations: 3D-printed heart model
3D innovations: 3D-printed heart model

Many centers were impressed and actively interested in how an accurate 3D-printed model could help them understand their patient’s anatomy and the 3D relationships between different crucial structures. The live cases at PICS-CSI were well attended and were an ideal platform to share insights about implementing 3D Printing in hospitals.


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