Hospital prints first 3-D heart using common imaging

29th June 2015

Heart experts at a children’s hospital in America say they have printed the first three dimensional model of a patient’s heart from integrating common imaging techniques.

They say the technique will potentially improve diagnosis and help with surgery and surgery planning.

The 3D model printing of patients' hearts has become more common in recent years as part of an emerging, experimental field for visualising individual cardiac structures and characteristics.

But experts at the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Michigan say this is the first time the integration of computed tomography (CT) and three-dimensional transesophageal echocardiography (3DTEE) has successfully been used for printing a hybrid 3D model of a patient's heart.

The hospital, a division of Spectrum Health, says it is also possible these techniques can be used in combination with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Jordan Gosnell, cardiac sonographer at the hospital, and lead author of the study said that previous methods of 3D printing used only one imaging tool may not be as accurate as merging two or more lots of data.

The team used special software to selectively integrate the data to produce a more anatomically accurate 3D printed model.

Dr Joseph Vettukattil, co-director of the hospital’s congenital heart centre and senior author of the study, said: "This is a huge leap. The technology could be beneficial to cardiologists and surgeons. The model will promote better diagnostic capability and improved interventional and surgical planning, which will help determine whether a condition can be treated via transcatheter route or if it requires surgery."