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Heart problems among children are one of the most difficult cases that surgeons have to deal with. The common reason for this is that the size of the heart is tiny which makes it difficult to conduct the operation. However, doctors from St. Thomas Medical Hospital in London used 3D printing technology to help pediatric patients with heart problems. 3D printing specialists, Gerald Geli, and Professor David Anderson created a medical innovation that can likely save many lives of patients suffering from pediatric heart diseases. Dubbed as the Gore-Tex patch, this innovation was first tested on a 2-year old patient Mina Khan who was born with a hole located between the walls of the chambers of her heart. The doctors who looked into her condition were hesitant to conduct the surgery because of the condition and status of the patient’s heart. Thus, they turned to 3D printing to streamline their procedure in treating the patient. To create the 3D model of the patient’s heart, the medical team attending the patient did a CT and MRI scan of the patient’s heart to find out the real situation of her heart. The model was then printed using a 3D printer to help surgeons map out how they are going to patch the heart. Doctors now have the advantage on how they should approach the operation as quickly and as efficiently as possible with minimal risk to the patient. 3D printing technology has proven its usefulness in the field of medical science and it will not be long when medical professionals all over the world will rely on it to treat patients suffering from different kinds of ailments.
A two week old baby, with a complicated heart problem that required an equally complicated surgery, in a New York hospital has been saved with the help of a 3D printed heart. At the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York City, the baby’s heart was 3D printed with the help of an MRI scan data. The baby was suffering from coronary heart disease (CHD). Commonly with CHD, the heart is riddled with holes—this is likewise true of the baby’s heart but what made the condition worse was that the baby’s heart was also structured unusually. The heart of the baby was like a maze with its unusual formation that required complicated heart surgery. In a normal operation, the first time that the surgeon gets to see the heart is during the surgery itself. The heart needs to be stopped and that’s the time the surgeon can look inside and decide what needs to be done. And with this kind of operation technique, subsequent surgeries would be needed too. However, with the help of 3D printing, doctors like Dr. Emile Bacha, who accomplished the surgery on the baby, can have the opportunity to take a look at the patient’s heart beforehand, have enough time to study it and make a surgical plan. The surgery went smoothly and Dr. Bacha was able to repair the baby’s heart with just one operation, with a big thanks to 3D printing. The project was funded by a Connecticut based foundation, the Matthew’s Hearts of Hope.
Gone is the time when would-be surgeons have to study human anatomy with the help of a detailed picture of a human heart or with the help of a cadaver heart. This time around, thanks to the invention of 3D printers, trainee surgeons can study a lifelike heart prosthetic—with all the works. This is as close as you can get to a real human heart without a patient, of course. The creator of this 3D printed prosthetic is Richard Arm of the Nottingham Trent University. The prosthetic is made from a silicone gel material that perfectly mimics the texture of a real human heart along with its inner workings. Unlike other 3D printed prosthetic organs made by previous efforts, Mr. Arm’s model was created with the use of varying blends of silicone gels instead of dry powder. Through actual CT scans of human hearts, the density of the different part of the prosthetic heart was established. Then with the help of a 3D printer, the data from the CT scan was printed to get a very lifelike heart prosthetic without having to create artificial muscle fibers. With this breakthrough in creating an artificial and lifelike heart that trainee surgeons can practice on, it opens a lot of possibilities for medical students. It allows them to simulate an operation even as trainee surgeons and be able to feel a lifelike sensation of cutting through a heart and how a heart would look like inside. To further enhance the realism of a mock operation, the study even looked into plans of pumping an artificial blood through this 3D printed heart. Image Taken From: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-29047165