There was little hope for this baby boy diagnosed in vitro with congenital heart disease

Supporting an Unprecedented Procedure

In July, a baby boy was born with a complex form of congenital heart disease in which both the aorta and pulmonary arteries arise from the right ventricle. Also present was a large hole in the heart called a ventricular septal defect (VSD). On the first day of his life, an extremely low dose chest CT scan was acquired to better understand the complex 3D relationships of the heart and defects. From the images alone it was difficult for the doctors to formulate the optimal surgical plan, especially considering that the baby’s heart was no bigger than a walnut! They turned to the 3D printing experts at Materialise for a solution.

CT images of the baby’s heart imported into Mimics and segmented

Starting with the baby’s image data, Todd Pietila, Cardiovascular Business Development Manager at Materialise, created a 3D model of his heart using Mimics Innovation Suite of software. The team at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital worked closely with Mr. Pietila to achieve an accurate reconstruction of the heart, which would allow the surgical team to best visualize the complex defect. The result was a 3D representation of the heart with the small details of the congenital defects captured accurately.

The file was then 3D printed at the medical production facility at Materialise’s U.S. headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan. Only 2 days after receiving the data, a replica of the baby’s heart was delivered to the hospital!

A 3D-printed model of the baby’s heart provided a road map for the surgeons

The Power of Holding the Tiny 3D-Printed Heart

The complex 3D relationships of the newborn’s defects were not apparent from the ultrasound and scan data alone.  Fortunately, with the 3D-printed model in hand, the team of clinicians at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital found an ideal solution for repairing all of the defects during one procedure, instead of three or four surgeries.

“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. In the past we had to stop the heart and look inside to decide what to do. With this technique [using a 3D printed model], it was like we had a road map to guide us.”
said Dr. Emile Bacha, a congenital heart surgeon and Director of Congenital and Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.



Dr. Emile Bacha performed the surgery when the week-old baby weighed just over 7 lbs.  His single procedure approach allowed the baby to avoid the typical series of palliative operations which can be life threatening. The clinical outcome was ideal and the baby is on his way to a healthy life.

The 3D printed heart model also allowed the surgeons’ to explain the baby’s condition and their plan to the worried parents. By seeing the model and understanding what needed to be done, the parents became as confident as the surgical team.



The baby a couple month post-op who now has a healthy, positive outlook on life

The baby’s father commented, "In discussing the necessary surgery with the doctors it was unclear how it would be performed and if it would be accomplished with one or two surgeries. We were told that they are working on getting a 3D-printed model of our son’s heart, which the team hoped would clarify the surgical plan. Upon receiving the model, everything changed. After studying the model, the surgeon got a clearer picture of what needed to be done and was very optimistic that he could do the repair in one surgery. Our baby was saved from subsequent surgeries and interventions and all the side effects and developmental delays that come with it. This is truly an amazing advancement in surgical planning and outcome. We are so thankful!"


The Future Looks Bright

The 3D printed HeartPrint® model proved to be so valuable that the clinicians at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital are already working with Materialise on additional cases. Dr. Bacha added, “After the success of this surgery, it’s hard to imagine entering an operating room for another complex case without the aid of a 3D printed model. It’s definitely going to be standard of care in the future and we’re happy to be leading the way.”  

Watch the video on CNBC

The Standard in ‘Engineering on AnatomyTM

The Mimics Innovation Suite turns 3D image data into high-quality digital models in an accurate and efficient way. Starting from optical scan, CT or MRI data, the Mimics Innovation Suite offers the most advanced image segmentation, the broadest anatomical measurement options, powerful CAD tools for Engineering on Anatomy and 3D Printing, and accurate model preparation for FEA and CFD.