3D Systems and Washington University Cardiology Team Help Toddler Breathe Easier with 3D Printed Heart Model

3D Systems has announced that’a 20-month-old toddler is breathing and swallowing easier thanks to a team of cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, who used a full-color 3D printed replica of his heart to prepare for a delicate, 2.5 hour procedure at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Image 13DS has been at the forefront of surgical planning and personalized medical solutions for almost two decades. With an end-to-end digital thread that integrates surgical simulation, training, planning, and printing of anatomical models, surgical instruments and medical devices, 3DS has helped doctors in tens of thousands of complex medical cases to achieve better patient outcomes with faster surgeries.

Life-size, realistic models make it simpler for patients and families to grasp the details of complex medical procedures, and they provide healthcare practitioners with invaluable preparation for their work in the operating room. In this particular case, the surgical team needed to relocate heart vessels that were squeezing and compressing the toddler’s windpipe and esophagus, causing obstruction of the airway that resulted in difficulty breathing and swallowing. The printed model helped the team familiarize themselves with the unique vessel structure they would face in surgery, and they were also able to use it when discussing the condition with the patient’s parents.

Dr. Shafkat Anwar, a member of the Pediatric Cardiology team at Washington University who worked with 3DS to develop the model heart for this particular surgical procedure said, ‘With 3D printing, we were able to print a replica of the patient’s heart anatomy, developed from medical imaging scans, and use that model to get a handle on what surgeons would be faced with in the OR and to communicate with the patient’s parents and other team members.’

Full-color 3D printed heart model created from medical imaging data that illustrates the vascular anatomy (blue & red) surrounding the airway anatomy (yellow).

We are excited to see more and more patients benefitting from the use of 3D printed medical models and virtual surgical planning, especially in challenging and complex cases like this heart surgery, where the precision afforded by 3D technology is integral to the procedure’s success,’ said Kevin McAlea, Chief Operating Officer, Healthcare Products, 3DS. ‘From surgical training to implants to prosthetics, 3DS’ personalized medical solutions are helping provide favorable outcomes and improving quality of life.’

To learn more about 3D Printing and how this technology is manufacturing the future, click here!