3-D Printing for Heart Surgery in Children

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Dr. Matthew Bramlett
In pediatric cardiology, the thing that is different from adult cardiology, is we’re dealing with hearts that were not formed appropriately. And sort of in it’s most complex form, there are babies that are born with half of a heart. And it takes a series of surgeries to sort of re-fix the plumbing so that these babies can have a sustainable circulation. And in some cases it’s fairly straight forward, what needs to but done, but in many cases, the best way to do that is, can be a little tricky to understand. We’ve typically used ultrasound as our primary modality for assessing the structure of the heart. Probably 10, 15 years ago, cardiac MRI became a big player in understanding now the 3D geometry and interplay. And over the past 2 years we’ve been printing these hearts from the 3D data sets to improve our understanding of congenital heart disease and the impact has been tremendous. The primary benefit is even with all of our amazing imaging modalities, we’re still looking at these complex lesions in a 2D format. Even if I take the projected you know, 3D image and spin it on a screen, it’s still a 2D screen. So what the models are allowing us to do, is pull it out of the screen and actually hold it in our hands and evaluate it in a dimension that we’ve never had before.