In April 2017, a young patient with serious cardiac deformity was the happy recipient of a successful heart surgery. His case was very complex and the surgery entailed high risks. What makes this surgery even more special however, is that it was one of the first to be performed under the patronage of Little Hearts of China. This charity project brings in selected young patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) from the western region of China and offers them advanced medical care that would otherwise not be available locally.
Cardiology has the distinction of being one of the earliest specializations in which patient-specific 3D anatomical models were implemented as part of treatment procedures. And although Medical 3D Printing has been used in the field for quite a few years already, much debate remains regarding which case should involve a 3D patient-specific model. It's a management decision that requires much thought and data. Until recently, literature on the use of 3D Printing in congenital heart disease (CHD) has been limited to anecdotal studies. This scientific publication has now given us more insight into the issue.
Physicians around the globe have one goal in common, which is to improve patient care. Materialise recently attended the first workshop on Surgical Morphology and Imaging of Congenital Heart Disease in Asia organized by the Cardiac Centre at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH). As an academic medical center and teaching hospital in Singapore, KKH is taking 3D Printing technology advancements in medicine to the next level by training specialists from the region – using actual 3D-printed heart models from patients.
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.
At the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital of the University Medical Centre of Utrecht, a four-year old patient with a large heart tumor came to pediatric cardiologist Dr. Blank for help. Due to the tumor, the boy suffered from heart rhythm problems, and it was quickly apparent to Dr. Blank that the only way to relieve these problems was to remove the tumor. The problem was its location. Situated near the mitral valve and the coronary arteries, the tumor would be extremely challenging to remove without damaging those delicate areas. Dr. Blank reached out to Prof. Hraska, a cardiac surgeon from the Sankt-Augustin hospital in Germany with substantial experience in removing similar tumors.
It is a sad day indeed when the happy tidings of a newborn baby are followed by the diagnosis of a serious congenital heart disease. Stephanie Starks had to face this situation 2,5 years ago after giving birth to her third daughter, Jemma. Although the disease was not recognized at first, little Jemma underwent two open-heart surgeries in the following 10 days and started treatment which she would need to continue for the rest of her life. Less than three years later, Jemma is now preparing for her fourth serious surgery.
Two-year old British Mina Khan was born with a complex hole between her ventricles (VSD). This life-threatening congenital defect exhausted her. Pumping blood around the hole took up all her energy, leaving her breathless, unable to eat or put on weight — even her hair wouldn’t grow. Doctors feared the hole was too big to repair, especially in the tiny, delicate heart of a toddler. Even for experienced pediatric surgeons, this would be a very risky operation.
The PCR Valve Atlas is a visual atlas covering all aspects of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI). The application, an initiative of PCR, the main reference source for the cardiovascular community, targets intermediate level interventionists and surgeons as well as medical professionals planning to start a TAVI program.
Despite careful planning, the complex dimensions of the left atrial appendage (LAA) and its variable morphology can result in procedural failure. To make their pre-operative planning even more thorough, a team of Australian physicians from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney turned to medical 3D Printing. The team created an exact replica of a patient's heart while planning a LAA closure procedure with a Boston Scientific Watchman™ device.
What do donor hearts and 3D Printing have in common? The answer to this is the University of Minnesota’s Visible Heart® Lab. Not content with simply teaching their students with 2D images, the team at the lab has moved their academic approach to a whole new level: 3D models of real human hearts. Imagine being able to train as a surgeon with a complete, tangible heart model, as opposed to learning off paper! And imagine acquiring the skills to make 3D models for any operation you might perform throughout your career? Here’s how Materialise enables the Visible Heart Lab’s unique approach to teaching, education and research.