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3D Systems’ technology prints accurate replicas of patients’ hearts in a pliable material that can be cut, sutured and grafted.

Norbert Sparrow

November 14, 2016

2 Min Read
Patient-specific 3D modeling aids cardiology procedures

Anatomical modeling is one area where 3D printing has made a significant contribution to medical technology. The three-dimensional reproductions of CT and MRI scans, which are very accurate and patient specific, allow surgeons to determine the best procedure for a given condition. 3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC), a provider of 3D printing equipment and services, is applying this technology to assist in the planning of procedures for patients with critical congenital heart defects (CHD) requiring surgical intervention. CHDs are the most common birth defect, according to the National Institutes of Health, affecting approximately 12 of every 1000 live births.

Part of 3D Systems’ “end-to-end” medical 3D-printing solutions,” the new service uses radiographic imaging data to create an accurate digital representation of the patient’s heart, which is then 3D printed using either ColorJet Printing (CJP) or MultiJet Printing (MJP), explains 3D Systems in a press release. Each technology offers a deeper understanding of a different aspect of the patient's anatomy. The full-color CJP models color-code the patient’s heart structures to assist communication during physician consultations, and the new MJP models enable pre-surgical planning and surgical rehearsal using a pliable material that mimics the patient’s anatomy and can be cut, sutured and grafted. 3D Systems’ MJP technology allows the entire heart to be 3D printed in one piece while maintaining an accurate representation of internal organ structures, adds the company.

The technology is shown in the video embedded below. 

“We have been collaborating with 3D Systems on the design and printing of cardiac 3D models for a few years now," said Shafkat Anwar, MD, Cardiology Director, Cardiac MRI Program, The Heart Center, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. "Our cardio-thoracic surgeons routinely use 3D printed models for precise pre-surgical planning, and have found these models helpful for complex cases. The models are also regularly used in our institution for trainee education and for counseling patients and their families. More recently, we have incorporated flexible 3D printed models into our pre-surgical ‘dataset’ and use both the flexible and rigid multicolor models for surgical planning. We have been consistently impressed by the high level of technical expertise of 3D Systems’ team, and the surgical models have proven accurate to the anatomy encountered in the operating room.”

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.

www.linkedin.com/in/norbertsparrow

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