Thursday 9 October 2014

Posted by Howzto
No comments | 13:21

A nearly perfect replica of a two-week-old baby’s heart allowed doctors to practice and plan the usually-complicated surgery that saved the infant’s life.

A 3D-printed heart has helped to save the life of a two-week-old baby, who was being treated at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in Manhattan for congenital heart defects (CHD).

The near-perfect replica wasn’t used for a transplant, but rather to help doctors practice the extremely difficult procedure that helped save the baby’s life.

The infant was suffering from abnormalities such as holes and unusually formed chambers, which can be corrected with surgery - but until doctors actually cut a patient open, they don’t know exactly what they’re dealing with, so these operations are extremely complex and risky.

Using this model, the team was able to plan out the operation in advance and even practice it.

Dr Emile Bach, the head of cardiac surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, explained, “The baby’s heart had holes, which are not uncommon with CHD, but the heart chambers were also in an unusual formation, rather like a maze. In the past we had to stop the heart and look inside to see what to do. With this technique, it was like we had a road map to guide us. We were able to repair the baby’s heart with one operation.”

With the help of the 3D printed model and practice in advance, Dr Bach was able to fix the baby’s heart in just one operation.

This isn’t the first time 3D printing has helped doctors out - last month doctors used a 3D printed brain to help practice the surgery that would save an infant’s life.

If these two cases are anything to go by, it’s clear that 3D printing is going to play a huge role in helping doctors perform more accurate and successful surgeries in the future.



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