Oct 20, 2016 | By Alec
When you think of the combination of 3D printers and hospitals, the first thing that comes to mind are 3D printed implants and even 3D printed organs, made a patient’s own stem cells. While those applications are certainly being developed, cardiovascular surgeons from the Maastricht University Hospital have just reminded the world that some existing invasive surgeries can also yield better results through 3D printing. They have developed an educational simulator that includes custom 3D printed heart valves on which surgeons-in-training can practice these complex surgeries and give them the confidence to opt for this challenging procedure.
It’s a solution for the degenerative mitral valve disease, which affects blood flow from the lungs to the heart and is known as one of the most complex cardiovascular issues that can lead to heart failure. It is a disease that is perfectly treatable through a mitral valve repair surgery, featuring a minimally invasive procedure and just a few incisions. If successful, the patient should experience very few side-affects and rehabilitation difficulties. Nonetheless, it’s not a procedure many surgeons will quickly oft for. “Surgeons are still deterred from adopting this [repair] procedure because of a steep learning curve,” the Dutch surgeons say. “Simulation-based training and planning could improve the surgical performance and reduce the learning curve.”
For right now, many surgeons are trained using the relatively archaic practice of just learning on-the-go – something not many patients would be happy about if they found out. “I am convinced that in the future, learning surgery on the job is no longer acceptable,” says Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery Jos Maessen. His team of researchers therefore set out to develop a patient-specific simulation for mitral valve repair, giving surgeons a chance of preparing for upcoming surgeries and simultaneously providing a proof of concept of personalized medicine in a patient.
The results of these efforts were recently published in the journal Interactive CardioVasc Thoracic Surgery, in a paper entitled ‘Preoperative planning with three-dimensional reconstruction of patient's anatomy, rapid prototyping and simulation for endoscopic mitral valve repair’. Heart surgeon Peyman Sardari Nia served as the first author.
What they developed is not just a standard simulator, but actually relies on the 3D printed copies of patient-specific heart valves – which allows surgeons to carefully prepare surgeries and drastically increase their success rates. The Maastricht UMC+ is now home to an artificial chest, in which the 3D printed valve is placed for a realistic simulation.
Key in its development was a 65-year-old male patient suffering from severe symptomatic mitral valve regurgitation, who served as a case study. “On the basis of three-dimensional (3D) transoesophageal echocardiography and computed tomography, 3D reconstructions of the patient's anatomy were constructed. By navigating through these reconstructions, the repair options and surgical access were chosen (minimally invasive repair),” they revealed.
Developer Sardari Nia relied on 3D printing and negative mold fabrication, ending up with a very fast method for patient-specific mitral valve replica development. Every valve is 3D printed and transformed into operable silicone models, ensuring that all scenarios can be tested and greatly increasing the success rate for complex cases.
While great for this particular surgical procedure, Sardari Nia feels that it is also a victory for the growing field of personalized medicine. “For we can plan the surgery to correspond to the unique heart valve structure in the patient. It’s a first step towards effective procedures that safeguard the safety of each and every patient,” he explains. The heart valve simulation model has already received a lot of positive feedback form the medical sector, and surgeons from all over the world have travelled to Maastricht to benefit from this tool already.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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Maikel Beerens CEO Xilloc wrote at 10/20/2016 9:51:21 AM:
Congratulations from Xilloc! Awesome innovation from the institute where our roots originate!