3D printing – a new way to tackle congenital heart disease?

3D printing – a new way to tackle congenital heart disease?

3D printing has the potential to transform the lives of those impacted by congenital heart disease (CHD) and is increasingly used in the treatment of these conditions. The manufacturing technique can be used to create a model replica of a patient’s heart, aiding in pre-surgical planning. This, in turn, could reduce overall operating time and lower the risk of complications. This advanced visualisation can also be incorporated into education and understanding of CHD anatomy.

There are five key processes to creating a 3D model:

1. Obtaining a high-quality, high-resolution 3D image
2. Using specialised software to divide and segment this image
3. Enhancing the model using computer-aided design to allow stability when the image is printed
4. Generating a 3D file to be uploaded to the printer3d prin
5. The printing of the 3D model

With 3D printing anticipated to impact the economy by $200–$600 billion between 2013 and 2025, this technology is improving and growing rapidly. In the future, the application of 3D printing in medicine could enhance communication between medical teams and increase the involvement of patients and their families. Analysing these 3D models allows for deeper understanding of more complicated and rare heart anomalies. Although this technology is relatively new, cardiologists are increasingly looking to use 3D printing to improve outcomes for CHD patients.

Sara Abou-Shakra (Graduate Trainee, HealthCare21)