Doctors Using 3-D Printed Hearts to Evaluate Pediatric Heart Conditions

Heart Modeling Program is First of its Kind in San Diego

San Diego, CA – Using the latest 3-D printing technology, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego’s Heart Institute is now creating perfect 3-D replicas of patient hearts, allowing physicians to more effectively plan and evaluate complex surgeries and educate patients and their parents about the procedures.

“You can actually look at the heart, rotate the heart and look at the relationship of all the different structures,” said Dr. Sanjeet Hegde, pediatric cardiologist and director of the 3-D modeling program at Rady Children’s. “We find it’s particularly applicable to children with complex heart defects.”

Rigid 3-D Heart Model

Rigid 3-D Heart Model

To create the model, the imaging data from a patient’s cardiac CT and MRI scans is entered into a special software program to generate a computer-aided design file. The file is then sent to the 3-D printer, which prints out a physical model of the heart. Various materials including plastic and photopolymers are used to make these models.

“What we have had to do up until this point is to reconstruct the two dimensional images into 3-D in our minds,” said Dr. John Lamberti, cardiovascular surgeon and director of Rady Children’s Heart Institute. “If you have the model, then the operation can be done more expeditiously.”

Based on the successful creation of these models and the benefits they have for patients, Rady Children’s Cardiology division has been awarded a one-year internal research grant. The funds will be used to commission the production of 10 heart models and to evaluate their usefulness in planning heart surgeries and interventional procedures, educating patients and teaching junior physicians.

Click here to watch a video and to learn more about this new technology.

Media Contact:
Carlos Delgado


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