Apr 19, 2017 | By Benedict

After establishing a 620-square-meter 3D printing lab containing over 50 3D printers, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has now invested in a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) simulation system that could help doctors prepare for heart treatments.

A procedure often reserved for elderly patients, transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is a relatively new technique that is often carried out to treat heart valve disorders such as aortic valve stenosis, a narrowing of the exit of the left ventricle of the heart.

During the procedure, a balloon at the end of a catheter is passed into the heart and inflated to open up room for a new valve. Once the new valve is in place, the balloon and catheter can be removed. While less invasive than heart valve surgery, the procedure can be risky, and it is therefore in a patient’s interests for their doctor to be fully prepared for the procedure—in any way they can be.

It is with this in mind that the Hong Kong Polytechnic University has invested in a TAVI simulation system, consisting of 3D printing and medical imaging equipment, which allows doctors to create patient-specific replica heart valves on which they can practice the tricky procedure. At a cost of around 300,000 HKD ($38,500), the system isn’t cheap, but PolyU staff believe that the high-tech equipment could make TAVI procedures a great deal safer for patients at Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, as well as promoting PolyU's research services to strengthen cooperation with the industry.

PolyU's new 3D printing tech will be used to train doctors on TAVI procedures

The new TAVI simulation system, which uses 3D printing equipment to fabricate medical models from silicone and polyurethane, is part of a concerted effort from PolyU to increase its 3D printing facilities. The university recently established a 620-square-meter 3D printing lab containing over 50 3D printers, at a cost of more than 45 million HKD ($5.8 million). The lab also contains 3D scanning equipment, computers loaded with CAD software, and other high-tech equipment.

Li Gengyuan, a consultant at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, has been practicing for TAVI procedures using the new simulation system. As part of his training, the hospital has set up a “mentoring system” in which doctors like Li must practice the TAVI procedure around five times under the supervision of a senior doctor. Once this training is complete, the doctors will supposedly be prepared for the real thing. Of Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s 15 cardiologists, six are now acquainted with the TAVI procedure.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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