Oct 12, 2015 | By Benedict

3D Systems, a market-leading provider of 3D digital fabrication solutions, has introduced new, advanced simulation training modules for its VR simulation platform, aimed at experienced cardiologists. The new cardiovascular anatomical modelling service provides patient-specific 3D printed models to be used both in surgical planning and for educational purposes. The training modules have been created for the ANGIO Mentor™ VR simulator, with a cardiovascular anatomical model product line that allows visualisation of complex cardiovascular anatomy.

3DS Pediatric Heart Model showing congenital abnormalities

This new development is a continuation of 3DS’ long-standing commitment to providing solutions to the healthcare industry, and the technology is already being put to use in certain hospitals. “We have collaborated with 3D Systems to print 3D models of complex congenital heart disease,” said Shafkat Anwar, MD and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Cardiology at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “These models play an important role in patient care, from surgical planning to trainee and patient/family education. I believe 3D printing is a leap in the evolution of personalised medicine, and will hopefully improve patient outcomes. 3D Systems has been a vital partner for us in this initiative."

Important new developments in the field of interventional cardiology have meant that more patients can now be treated using Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) procedures, which are less invasive than other heart procedures. However, for every exciting new development, cardiologists need to be taught the new techniques. Unsurprisingly, an instruction manual does not suffice. In order to provide experienced cardiologists with training for these techniques, 3DS developed virtual reality training scenarios to be used on its ANGIO Mentor endovascular training simulator. These particular scenarios are for the treatment of Coronary CTO (Chronic Total Occlusion) and Coronary Bifurcation cases.

Advanced Coronary intervention scenario of chronic total occlusion (CTO) using the ANGIO Mentor simulator.

3D printing techniques are being used more and more frequently to assist surgery. Doctors are able to scan patients’ body parts using, for example, an MRI scanner, to produce an accurate 3D image of said body part, of which a 3D-printed physical model can be made. Surgeons can then take a close look at the 3D-printed model, which provides more insight than the scans alone. 3DS are no strangers to this procedure, and their patient-specific cardiovascular anatomical models can be used to enhance surgical planning in complex procedures. Their cardiovascular anatomical modelling service uses patient-specific imaging data from CT or MR scans to render an image of that particular heart, which can then be 3D printed in a variety of materials. As well as providing invaluable assistance to surgeons, these models can afterwards function as educational resources for less experienced cardiologists, and as benchtop fixtures on which instruments and implants can be tested.

Surgeons using ANGIO. All images from 3D Systems.

The material with which a doctor chooses to 3D print a model depends on the purpose for which it is being printed. Life-size, tactile heart models printed using 3DS’ ColorJet Printing (CJP) technology result in a full colour representation of cardiac structures, providing a more lifelike picture of the depicted organ, which can make complex congenital heart defects easier to comprehend. However, translucent models of vasculature with selective coloration of calcific deposits printed in Stereolithography (SLA) are also incredibly useful to medical professionals, and serve to highlight particular areas of the organ.

3DS’ new training modules and 3D printed heart models can be seen first hand at their booth at the TCT exhibition (Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics), which takes place October 12-14 in San Francisco.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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