A little girl suffering from a rare heart condition has undergone life-changing surgery with the help of a 3D printed heart model at the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.
5-year-old Mia Gonzalez was diagnosed with a heart malformation called double aortic arch, a condition in which a vascular ring wraps around either the trachea or oesophagus, restricting airflow. The life-threatening condition could only be repaired through an intricate operation to repair the arches in her heart so the hospital turned to 3D printing to visualise and prepare for the complex procedure and ensure the best outcome.
To improve patient results, surgeons at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital have been leveraging Stratasys 3D printing technology to produce models for pre-surgical planning. Using MRI or CT scan data, doctors can create patient-specific models that can help surgeons prepare for complex procedures or demonstrate to patients what their surgery will entail. Stratasys reseller, AdvancedRP, supplies these anatomical models to the hospital, which are printed on a Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 Multi-Material 3D Printer in a wide range of materials that can accurately replicate organs and the rigidity of bones.
3D printed heart models.
“The challenge is a surgical one, how do you divide this double aortic arch and save her life without hurting her,” explained, Dr. Redmond Burke, Director of Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, part of Miami Children’s Health System. “By making a 3D model of her very complex aortic arch vessels, we were able to further visualise which part of her arch should be divided to achieve the best physiological result. It’s very powerful when you show a family ‘this is your baby’s heart and this is how I’m going to repair it.’”
After 3D printing and examining Mia’s heart model, Dr. Burke determined the best course of action by visualising the surgical solution on the model. The heart model supported doctors in performing an extremely successful surgery.
Mia recovered quickly and is finally living the life of a happy and healthy child. Mia’s mother, Katherine Gonzalez, commented: “Going from four-and-a-half years of not knowing to being back to normal in less than two months: That’s been a great experience for us.”
3D printing is becoming increasingly more common in the medical sector with hospitals using patient-specific models to determine the best solution for treatment. Last month a young girl with a serious lung condition underwent successful surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital following a trial operation where doctors used an exact 3D printed model of her trachea.