Richard Arm with a cast of a human heart - ntu.ac.uk
3D printing has been a welcome addition to the medical industry's set of practices with applications from 3D printed spines to life-altering facial implants getting approvals and finding their way into real life cases.
One of the biggest benefits the technology holds for medicine is in training and pre-surgery planning. The latest development to be added to this portfolio is from Nottingham Trent University where a lifelike 3D printed human heart has been created.
Designed by Richard Arm, an MSc Smart Design postgraduate researcher at the university, the prosthetic accurately mimics the structure and textures of the human heart by using specific blends of silicone gels.
The model has the potential to help improve the way trainee surgeons develop their understanding of critical operations like heart surgery and will be used to help teach medical students advanced anatomy and improve their skills before going into live theatre.
Richard said on the Nottingham Trent University website:
"This study shows how it's possible to replicate the human heart, inside and out, and make it so realistic that it could literally be 'operated' on by trainee surgeons. Students would be able to make incisions to experience how it would feel and see what the inside of the heart looks like. An operation could be simulated and students would be able to practice until they reached a satisfactory standard, improving the quality of medical care in the future."
With support from the Ministry of Defence’s Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and also the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, the study also includes an exploration of how CT and MRI scan data could be used to 3D print patient specific hearts in the future.