Sandrine Debecker February 4, 2016

3D-printed models of cardiovascular anatomy can be used to improve planning, education and training, but how effective are these models when preparing for surgery? Laszlo Kiraly, PhD, pediatric cardiac surgeon at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, United Arab Emirates, and his team have recently published a case report in the Interactive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery journal about the benefits of 3D printed surgical models.

3D-printed hollow model from the surgeon’s perspective. Black dotted lines represent the intended incisions. The specimen is opened and internal obstructive ridge is resected (red dotted lines). ‘Autologous’ flaps are created and turned over as arch augmentation (arrows).© Image courtesy of Laszlo Kiraly, MD, PhD
3D-printed hollow model from the surgeon’s perspective. Black dotted lines represent the intended incisions. The specimen is opened and internal obstructive ridge is resected (red dotted lines). ‘Autologous’ flaps are created and turned over as arch augmentation (arrows).© Image courtesy of Laszlo Kiraly, MD, PhD

The clinicians present the case of a 5-month-old infant with complex obstruction at the neo-aorta and aorta following a neonatal modified Norwood-1 procedure for hypoplastic left heart syndrome. In order to better understand the complex anatomy of the patient and to carefully prepare for surgery, Dr. Kiraly reached out to Materialise for a 3D-printed heart model. First, a clinical engineer at Materialise processed the medical images into a digital 3D model using specialized software. During an online meeting, the virtual model was reviewed and printing materials discussed. Next, a life-size blood volume model and a three times enlarged hollow model were 3D printed and shipped to the hospital.

Kiraly et al. describe that the rigid blood volume model provided a detailed visualization of the spatial relationships of the anatomical structures, whereas the flexible hollow model allowed the team to plan and simulate the surgery. Moreover, the operation was performed in accordance with preoperative simulation.

In the clinicians’ opinion, the insight they gained from the models contributed to a successful outcome and improved patient care.

Dr. Kiraly comments: “I brought the models into the operating room and consulted them from time to time. The models were very useful and accurate in detail, so measurements could be taken from them and applied in real situation when creating a flap etc. That was extremely useful.”

Check out the 3D PDF with a 360° rotatable view of the model.

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Disclaimer: Only 3D-printed anatomical models created with Materialise Mimics inPrint in conjunction with compatible 3D printers are cleared for diagnostic use.