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The 3D-printing medical breakthroughs of the year (so far): Aortic valve

The artificial aortic valve of an 81-year-old woman was failing, and open heart surgery was out of the question. Having already undergone multiple heart surgeries, she was not strong enough to endure another. Her doctor recommended transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a relatively new less-invasive valve replacement technique. The octogenarian was brought into Strong Memorial Hospital, where heart specialists from the University of Rochester Medical Center were standing by for the procedure. Its successful outcome was facilitated by 3D printing.

The artificial aortic valve of an 81-year-old woman was failing, and open heart surgery was out of the question. Having already undergone multiple heart surgeries, she was not strong enough to endure another. Her doctor recommended transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a relatively new less-invasive valve replacement technique. The octogenarian was brought into Strong Memorial Hospital, where heart specialists from the University of Rochester Medical Center were standing by for the procedure. Its successful outcome was facilitated by 3D printing.

Ultrasound and computerized tomography images of the valves were captured and doctors collaborated with surgical device firm LSI Solutions to transform those 2D images into a 3D model of the targeted portion of her heart. Doctors used that model to meticulously plan for the TAVR.

"We brought the scans and digital data together to allow LSI to create the 3D print model of her heart," said Peter Knight, MD, who performed the procedure with interventional cardiologist Thomas Stuver, MD, of Rochester Cardiopulmonary Group. "We were specifically interested in the relationship of the valves to make sure we had enough room to do the new valve placement inside the old valve. All the pre-operative planning paid off for her."

The 3D model showed there was plenty of room—measured in millimeters—to place the new aortic valve within the existing aortic valve, without disturbing the mitral valve function, Stuver said

The patient has returned home, where she has resumed her normal activities.

TAVR heart model

TAGS: 3D Printing
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