3D Heart Printing Helps NY Surgeons Save Infant’s Life

3D printing has been shattering barriers and firmly creating new milestones. In yet another instance, surgeons at a hospital in New York have successfully saved the life of an infant thanks to a 3D printed heart. The baby, just 2 weeks old, was in need of a complex heart surgery. Doctors at the Morgan Stanley Children’s hospital printed a 3D copy of the infant’s heart using MRI scan data. The surgery was required because the heart was seen to be unusually structured and riddled with holes. With the 3D printed heart, surgeons could study the model organ in detail and plan their surgical procedure in accordance.

While it is not uncommon for infants with CHD to have holes in the heart, the problem lay with the chambers of the heart, which had a rather unusual formation. Doctors called it “like a maze”. The surgery was performed by Dr Emile Bacha. Earlier, in a scenario like this, doctors would have had no option but to stop the heart in order to look inside it, and then decide what their surgical strategy would be. However, the 3D printed model of the heart proved to be a highly reliable road map. It took just one operation to repair the heart.

A Connecticut-based foundation—Matthew’s Hearts of Hope—funded the project. In the meanwhile, doctors said that they were in the process of printing out another 3D model of a heart, details of which would be available next month.

This technology will now help surgeons plan their surgery ahead and improve the chances of it being successful.


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