8 December 2014
The ability to print 3D hearts could significantly reduce the number of children needing surgery to repair the organ due to congenital heart disease.
Speaking at the EuroEcho-Imaging 2014, Dr Peter Verschueren said young people with this condition often need up to four open heart surgeries throughout their life. However, a 3D-printed copy of the heart could reduce this number by half as doctors would be able to practice and determine the best interventional approach and device beforehand.
He added that this would also prevent children from having to spend months in the intensive care units of hospitals.
Three dimensional printing works much like traditional printing, as it builds a device by creating layers of plastics, metals and other materials instead of ink. The technique was first used to make prototypes in for planes and cars, but now the potential for medical development is being pursued.
Dr Verschueren said: "You can make complex, unique things, which is useful in medicine because each patient is different."
A CT or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is used to print muscles and valves that can then be created by the 3D printer.
Posted by Edward Bartel
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