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As I was looking up new and different approaches to cardiology, circulation and oxygenation in

pediatrics, I stumbled upon the website of the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphias Cardiac
Center. After reading about the different research, I clicked on an article called
Multidimensional Medicine, which was in the hospitals magazine, Childrens View. The
amazing article was about using a high-tech 3D printer to make a 3D tangible, identical
replication of a pediatric patients heart- all defects included. Normally, the heart is visualized
using computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and 3D echocardiograms. Their
purpose for creating the 3D models is to be able to closely analyze the anatomy of the heart,
including the spatial relationships, to help with pre-procedure planning and increase positive
outcomes in corrective surgeries. According to the article, the 3D replica allows the physicians to
look at how placing a patch or valve will impact blood flow. The material used to create the
model can be cut, patched, and sewn, which are things usually done during corrective surgeries.
Using this high-tech printer and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data, cardiologists Mark
Fogel, MD, director of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance, and Yoav Dori, MD, are creating exact
models of their patients hearts, defects and all. Instead of looking at a flat MRI to determine the
best way to perform a surgical repair, surgeons at CHOP can now hold and closely analyze an
anatomically correct replica of the heart itself.
Dori is part of a clinical trial studying whether 3-D models can improve patient outcomes.
The biggest advantage of the Connex printer is that it prints using a material that can be cut into,
patched and sewn. The hope is that using 3-D heart models to practice virtual procedures can
help cardiologists and surgeons better prepare for difficult procedures.
The more anatomic detail you get, the better and safer the procedure will be, says
interventional cardiologist Matthew Gillespie, MD. Gillespie is part of a team pioneering
transcatheter valve replacements, a minimally invasive procedure during which cardiologists
replace a childs pulmonary valve through a small incision in the leg or groin.
ONeill, M. (2014). Multidimensional medicine. Retrieved from CHOP:
I also found an article that was published in the Journal of the American Society of
Echocardiography that compared the feasibility and accuracy of 3D model measurements with
conventional two-dimensional (2D) echocardiographic measurements of cardiac defects. In the
study, nine patients with heart defects including ventricular septal defects and aortic valve leaks
were studied. They had the conventional 2D cardiography performed and that information was
used using digital imaging to create a 3D digital model, which was printed. The measurements of
the defects were compared between the 2D model and 3D printed model. According to the
article, the mean absolute error (2D - 3D) for each measurement was 0.4 0.9 mm, indicating
accuracy of the 3D model of <1 mm. What this means is that the 3D models that were printed
accurately reflect the defects anatomy and represent a new tool in planning corrective action for
children with congenital heart defects.

**The picture above was taken from the article and depicts the digital 3D echocardiograph
model usually used during diagnostics in comparison to the 3D printed, tangible model. Threedimensional; IVS, interventricular septum; LV, left ventricle; MB, moderator band; RV, right
ventricle; TV, tricuspid valve; VSD, ventricular septal defect.
Normally, cardiovascular surgeons rely on mental conversion of 2D data into a 3D
understanding of the spatial relationships of intracardiac structures. With the 3D printed model,
they can actually pick it up, feel it, move it around and truly understand the anatomy of their
patients heart and defects.
I think that this article was awesome and goes to show the advances in medical technology. It
may not be feasible to print every single patients heart model, as I dont know what the cost for
this technology is, but if its going to possibly reduce open-heart surgeries and promote positive
outcomes for cardiac patients, why not? Plus, the model could be given to the patient later as a
souvenir. =)

Olivieri, L., Krieger, A., Loke, Y., Nath, D., Kim, P., & Sable, C. (2015). Three-Dimensional
Printing of Intracardiac Defects from Three-Dimensional Echocardiographic Images:
Feasibility and Relative Accuracy. Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography,

More links to this awesomeness