Feb 21, 2017 | By Benedict

Surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio have used 3D printing to operate on boy with Heterotaxy syndrome, a rare birth defect. Doctors said the boy’s heart seemed to have "two right sides" and no left, giving him serious breathing difficulties.

Every day seems to bring another medical 3D printing success story, with surgeons now perfecting the art of 3D printed surgical models and guides. The latest case of 3D printing saving lives comes in the shape of nine-year-old Ethan Bradley from Grafton, Ohio, who underwent surgery in August 2016 after suffering his whole life from Heterotaxy syndrome, a rare defect that affects heart function and oxygenation levels. By using a 3D printed model of Bradley’s heart, surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic were able to prepare thoroughly for surgery by inspecting the 3D printed heart and practising incisions on it.

All his life, young Bradley had been living under the severe constraints of Heterotaxy syndrome. With his oxygen levels rarely exceeding around 55 percent, the boy was barely able to walk around freely, let alone fulfil his dream of joining a basketball team. When in the womb, Bradley was given a one to five percent chance of survival because of the extremely complex defect from which he was suffering. The problem was severe: Bradley’s internal organs were arranged in the wrong place within his chest and abdomen.

Soon after birth, which the youngster was incredibly lucky to survive, Bradley underwent open heart surgery, spending the first three months of his life in intensive care. Further surgeries and spells in hospital followed across several years, until the child’s parents started noticing that the physical condition was taking a psychological toll. Bradley was unable to take part in any kind of physical activity, and came to think of himself as an outsider.

When Bradley was nine years old, his family took the bold decision to try a new kind of surgery to improve the child’s severely restricted life. The child’s doctor referred the Bradley family to Cleveland Clinic, where surgeons could potentially separate the atriums of the child’s heart without affecting the ventricles, the lower heart chambers. The procedure could theoretically reroute Ethan’s blue blood to his lungs and his red blood to the aorta.

Before the surgery was performed, Hani Najm, chairman of pediatric and congenital heart surgery at the clinic, ordered a 3D printed model of the child’s heart so he could prepare for the surgery. “The actual separation of his circulation on the inside is kind of novel—it is not common that we do this,” Najm said. “But it is something that I was able to innovate. Because of the 3D printing, I was able to look at it, and sit in my office and decide what I needed to do.”

With the help of a heart-lung machine and 11 medical staff, Najm was able to operate successfully on Bradley, carefully avoiding the serious risk of Bradley’s organs sticking to the chest wall. Despite there being many possible complications to the surgery, nothing went wrong, and the youngster was weaned off his ventilator the very next day. He was home within a week; five weeks later, he was fully recovered.

“It is absolutely incredible,” said Ethan’s mom Katrina Bradley in an interview with Fox News. “We went from having this sick child who spent the majority of his day sitting on the couch or sleeping because he was just too tired or out of breath to do anything, and now he’s just running around the house and excited.”

Although Bradley may need follow-up surgeries in the future, the 3D printing-assisted operation has made a huge difference, upping his oxygen levels to around 95 percent. His skin, once blue, now glows a healthy shade of pink. “It’s just a completely different kid,” mom Katrina added.

Now that young Bradley is able to exercise without immediately getting out of breath, his first aim is to learn to ride a bike. When he has mastered cycling, he plans to take to the basketball court in the hope of achieving his once-impossible dream.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Eric Spidell wrote at 2/22/2017 5:05:42 AM:

Wow, good to see this type of story! Wishing you health and good times.

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