Paediatrics is one of the latest specialties that has seen the proliferation of 3D heart printing to conduct revolutionary life-saving procedures.

In new findings presented at the Chicago, American Heart Association Meeting infant hearts are being printed in 3D, mirroring exact details of actual hearts and allowing surgeons to accurately plan heart operations on infants with congenital heart defects.

A recent study co-authored by a Paediatric Cardiologist at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, Dr Matthew Bramlet, indicated that infant hearts printed in 3D takes a lot of the guess work out of heart operations by allowing surgeons to plan where to cut tissue, reroute piping and patch holes. The 3D replicas allow surgeons to see ventricular septal defects that previously could not be seen with the naked eye.

Such insight allows surgeons to know how long to stop the heart for during surgery to complete procedures, whereas before surgeons would have to stop the heart to observe it and understand what needed to be done. As a result multiple surgeries can now be avoided using 3D printing technology.

A baby’s life has already been saved using 3D printing in this way. “With this technique, it was like we had a road map to guide us,” said Congenital Heart Surgeon and Director of Congenital and Paediatric Cardiac Surgery at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Dr Emile Bacha, after successfully completing the surgery that will allow the infant to go on to lead a healthy life.

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