Julie Maes October 14, 2016
Today we read stories all the time about the insights that clinicians can gain from 3D-printed heart models, and the way they contribute to a successful treatment outcome and improved patient care. In this blog post we wanted to take a look at the early days of cardiac 3D Printing, and one of the first applications where the technology proved its value.
In 2007, Dr. Schievano and his co-workers at the University College of London showed the added value of 3D-printed cardiac models when deciding on the best clinical approach. At the time, a new technology was introduced into the field: percutaneous pulmonary valve implantation (PPVI) as opposed to standard open heart surgery. Despite the many advantages a transcatheter procedure has over an open heart surgery, not all patient anatomies are equally suitable for such a treatment. The patient selection was mainly based on MRI imaging of the region where the devices needed to fit the anatomy: the right ventricular outflow tract (RVOT). By scrolling through the 2D slices, the physicians needed to try and imagine the anatomy in 3D. Together with some 2D measurements, this formed the basis for patient selection as well as the planning of the procedure. The researchers at UCL investigated whether a 3D-printed replica based on the initial MRI images would provide a more accurate and consistent way of selecting patients for the procedure. By doing a retrospective study, the 3D-printed models resulted in a more accurate selection of the patients who could undergo this new approach. Today, PPVI is still a procedure that is used often. In the most challenging cases, 3D-printed models are used to assess the feasibility of the procedure as well as planning it.
Related article: Optimal device fit for PPVI in wide RVOT anatomies
Disclaimer: Only 3D-printed anatomical models created with Materialise Mimics inPrint in conjunction with compatible 3D printers are cleared for diagnostic use.