A team of surgeons at New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital recently saved the life of a one-week-old baby with the aid of a 3-D printed model of the child's heart. The 3-D model was used as a guide for surgery on the child, who was born with a complex and deadly form of congenital heart disease.
Emile Bacha, M.D., director of congenital and pediatric cardiac surgery at the hospital, and his team performed surgery when the baby was just one week old and weighed only 7 lbs. With the aid of the 3-D model, the team was able to repair all of the heart's defects in a single procedure. Typically, hospital executives said, babies born with this complex form of CHD require a series of three or four life-threatening surgeries.
"The baby's heart had holes, which are not uncommon with CHD, but the heart chambers were also in an unusual formation, rather like a maze," Bacha said. "In the past, we had to stop the heart and look inside to decide what to do. With 3-D printing technology, we are able to look at the inside of the heart in advance, giving us a road map for the surgery," he added.
Prior to the surgery, a team of doctors diagnosed the baby with CHD while he was still in the womb, allowing time to develop the optimal treatment plan. After the baby was born, cardiologist Anjali Chelliah, M.D., worked closely with Materialise, a company that specializes in 3-D printing for healthcare, to create a model of the child's heart with data taken from a low-dose CT scan performed just one day after the baby was born.
Only two days after receiving the data, the printer was able to produce an exact replica of the heart, allowing the doctors to understand every detail of the congenital defects.
"After the success of this surgery, it's clear that 3-D models can be successfully used to help surgeons in complex procedures," Bacha said. "This technology is the future, and we are proud that NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital is leading the way."
The 3-D printed model of the baby's heart was paid for by Matthew's Hearts of Hope, a non-profit organization that supports CHD patients and their families.
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