3D Printed Heart model saved a life

Once again doctors in China have proved that 3D printing is a life savior for many. Doctors have successfully performed surgery of a nine month old baby who was suffering from congenital heart disease. And using 3Dprinted organ models for pre planning purposes has gained a much wider acceptance. A 3D printed surgical model was used to guide the doctors throughout the surgery. It has proven to be an invaluable tool for surgical tools and thus doctors worldwide has started to take the process too seriously after some successful operations. For the first time a 3D printed surgical model was used for such a procedure in the Jilin Province of Northeast China. The 3Dprited models help the patient to understand what exactly is wrong and how it will be fixed and also helps doctors to pre-plant the entire surgical procedure. That leads in particularly reducing the time required performing the surgery, also often eliminates unexpected and complicated surgeries.

3D Printed Heart model

Marking another important milestone in the expansion of 3D printing within the medical worlds, the surgery was successfully carried out on 11th March’16. China has been exceptionally slow than other countries in jumping to 3D printing industry. Within a few years in the 3D printing industry China has witnessed many successful 3D printed surgeries. The 3Dprinting-assisted heart surgeries, first in the Jiangsu Province in July, followed by another 3D printed heart model and surgery in the Anhui Province both surgeries made headlines in local national and international newspapers. With the most recent surgery in North Korea bordering Jilin, further demonstrates that the new technology is spreading through new regions of the country. Chinese doctors have recently used 3D printing technology to perform a complex procedure that was able to separate a pair of conjoined twins proving that they are doing a great job in catching up with the Western countries in the 3D printing technology.

This time the Chinese team of doctors has performed an open heart surgery of a nine month old baby who was suffering from Congenital heart defect using 3D printed model of the heart to pre plan the surgery. Despite of being born healthy shortly after the birth doctors noticed that the baby was not able to breathe properly. Soon the doctors examine and came to know that the baby was suffering from a severe congenital heart disease called a Total Pulmonary Venous Anomalous Drainage. The child was born with all four of his pulmonary veins malpositioned and he also suffered from an atrial septal defect which caused blood to flow between the upper chambers of the heart. "The defect was very rare and complicated," said Zhang Xueqin, the surgeon responsible for operating on the child and director of the pediatric cardiac surgery center at the People's Hospital of Jilin. The medical team had a real task on their hands to keep the child alive.

Services of the 3D printing technology were highly required in this case, as the baby was too young and small and could not be subjected to several traditional surgical procedures. The medical team used Materialise's Mimics software to convert MRI scan data into a 3D printable model. According to Zhang, the 3D printed heart made all the difference. ”With the model, we were able to know precisely where and how we should cut, and how big the incision should be," said Zhang. "And with such a thorough plan, we spent only half the time we had expected to complete the surgery.”

3D Printed Heart model

“He was taken to the hospital and was critically ill with heart failure and severe pneumonia, because the boy is so young and small, it was difficult to develop the best surgery plan using just an ultrasound examination. If treatment had been delayed, the baby’s chance of dying before his first birthday would have been as high as 80 per cent,” explained Zhang Xueqin, the director of the pediatric cardiac surgery center at the People’s Hospital of Jilin and the baby’s surgeon.

This was the first time that a full sized 3D printed model of the patient’s heart was used to pre-plan a surgery in China. It was a very rare and extreme case of congenital heart defect, but with the help if the 3D printed replica of the heart made it easy to fix the child’s heart. With the successful surgery the boy is now recovering in a general ward and can now lead on to live a long and healthy life. Also Zhang adds that the boy is lucky enough, because if the surgery would have been delayed the boy would have less than 20% chance of surviving beyond his first birthday.

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