Pliable 3D printed heart models to help cardiac pre-surgical planning

3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC, USA) has announced the extension of their anatomical modeling service to include a pliable multi-jet printing material, for use in creating patient-specific 3D printed heart models mimicking patient physiology, allowing improved pre-surgical planning of cardiac operations.

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3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC, USA) has recently announced the expansion of their anatomical modeling company to now also produce patient-specific models for cardiology procedures such as critical congenital heart defects. Using a new multi-jet printing material, which is more flexible and therefore similar to real heart physiology than other materials, there are hopes these realistic heart replicas will support pre-surgical planning and medical training.

Critical congenital heart defects affect 12 in every 1000 live births, making it the most prevalent birth defect in humans. In some cases surgical intervention is needed, which is where 3D systems heart models become useful.

3D Systems create patient-specific cardiac models using radiographic imaging data, which is then 3D printed using color-jet printing or multi-jet printing. Printing the entire heart in one go creates a more life-like, detailed representation of the patient’s heart. Color-jet printing creates color-coded models that portray the different structures of the heart to aid physician consultations, whereas multi-jet printing creates workable models that can be cut, sutured and grafted during pre-surgical planning and practice.

Shafkat Anwar, the Cardiology Director of the Cardiac MRI Program at The Heart Center in St Louis Children’s Hospital (MO, USA), commented: “We have been collaborating with 3D Systems on the design and printing of cardiac 3D models for a few years now. Our cardiothoracic surgeons routinely use 3D printed models for precise pre-surgical planning, and have found these models helpful for complex cases. The models are also regularly used in our institution for trainee education and for counseling patients and their families.”

Anwar continued: “More recently, we have incorporated flexible 3D printed models into our pre-surgical ‘dataset’ and use both the flexible and rigid multicolor models for surgical planning… the surgical models have proven accurate to the anatomy encountered in the operating room.”


Poster image courtesy of 3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC, USA)

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