April 7, 2014

Surgeons have made huge strides in treating the human heart. Now Stanford cardiologist Paul Wang, MD, and colleagues are using a new technique that could soon make those surgeries even more precise, by starting with an 3D printed exact replica of the patient's heart.

"To be able to have a structure of the heart in front of us and be able to hold it in our hands and to be able to test the new devices that we're developing is really a miracle," says Dr. Paul Wang.

First, engineers CT scan the patient's heart and capture multiple images which are then be used to create a 3D model using sophisticated CAD software. The 3D printer then reproduces the heart in a process that takes several hours.

"It's revolutionary," says Wang. "One can leave the settings overnight and come back the next day and have a completed heart. You can see the exceptional detail, the structures that hold the valves in place."

Wang says the models are so accurate that surgeons could potentially scale and fit devices ranging from catheters to coronary stents to the precise dimensions of an individual's heart. The technology could allow doctors to test different surgical strategies in advance, before a patient ever enters the operating room.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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