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3D-printed heart helps doctors prepare for life-saving surgery

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February 24, 2014

Built in three pieces using a flexible filament, the 3D-printed heart reportedly took around 20 hours and cost US$600

Built in three pieces using a flexible filament, the 3D-printed heart reportedly took around 20 hours and cost US$600

3D printing technology has assisted in life-saving heart surgery performed on a 14-month old child, with the J.B Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville producing a printed model of the child's heart prior to the procedure, allowing the doctors to better prepare for the operation.

Chief of Radiology at Kosair Children's Hospital Philip Dydysnki approached the school when he and his medical team were looking at ways of treating Roland Lian Cung Bawi, a boy born with four heart defects.

Using images taken from a CT scan of Roland's heart, researchers from the school's Rapid Prototyping Center were able to create and print a 3D model of the organ 1.5 times its actual size. Built in three pieces using a flexible filament, the printing reportedly took around 20 hours and cost US$600.

Cardiothoracic surgeon Erle Austin III then used the model to devise a surgical plan, ultimately resulting in the repairing of the heart's defects in just one operation.

"I found the model to be a game changer in planning to do surgery on a complex congenital heart defect," said Austin.

Roland has since been released from hospital and is said to be in good health.

You can hear from the people involved in the procedure in the video below.

Source: University of Louisville

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About the Author
Nick Lavars Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. Having worked for publications such as The Santiago Times and The Conversation, he now writes for Gizmag from Melbourne, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, the city's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches. All articles by Nick Lavars
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3 Comments

I think this pre-op technique is fascinating and hope it will be used a lot more with other problem organs. Medical scans and x-rays are a great tool but nothing beats hands on manipulation for solutions and practice before repairs begin.

mvp

One day, we may even be able to print out organs.

JSmith

JSmith, I think they are working on that.

I think that is cool and a little freaky.

If one could use it to make a mold, then a chocolate version of it, one could 'give someone ones heart'. :)

BigGoofyGuy
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