Apr. 17, 2015 | By Lilian

Medical applications of 3D printing technology have been widely successful in recent months. 3D printed implants have already been used to save lives in academic hospitals throughout the world, while many rare and complex surgeries have been successfully concluded with the help of 3D printed trial replicas.

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

We've just learned of another successful case from 3D Systems that a 20-month-old toddler is breathing and swallowing easier thanks to a full-color 3D printed replica of his heart which was used to prepare for a lengthy procedure at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

The toddler, Liam Summers, was having trouble breathing and swallowing. Washington University cardiologist Dr. Peter Manning and his surgical team needed to relocate heart vessels that were squeezing and compressing the toddler's windpipe and esophagus, making it difficult for the toddler to breathe and swallow. The 3D printed model developed by 3D Systems helped the team familiarize themselves with the unique vessel structure they would face in the surgery.

"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," said Dr. Shafkat Anwar, a member of the Pediatric Cardiology team at Washington University who worked with 3D Systems to develop the model heart for this particular surgical procedure.

"This helps us recognize why the child might have breathing problems. There's an area that looks like narrowing of the trachea. We know the esophagus goes right through there, so every time that he swallows things are likely to get hung up there as well," said Manning.

The surgeons were also able to use it when discussing the condition with Liam's parents. The life-size, realistic 3D printed model makes it simpler for the family to grasp the details of complex medical procedures.

"I thought it was pretty nice that echnology could get that sophisticated where they could check things out a little better without just looking at a picture," said Anissa Summer, Liam's mother.

A 3D printed model of Liam's heart (Photo: KSDK)

The surgery lasted 2.5 hours and the team successfully completed the operation. "He went to sleep fine and everything went real smoothly," said Manning. "We got in there and the anatomy was just like we expected. "Swallowing stuff, I would guess, should be noticeably better within the next couple of weeks."

"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."




Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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