Researchers at Asan Medical Center (AMC) have developed a technology that can produce 3D models of a heart for patients with complex cardiac anomalies, the hospital said Tuesday.
A team led by Professors Yoon Tae-jin, Yang Dong-hyun and Kim Nam-gook at the hospital, uses the 3D printing model to make an actual heart that has the same size and structure of the patient and simulate the surgery beforehand.
“The process can improve the accuracy of the surgery plan and help patients and family members understand the operation,” the hospital said.
|From left, Professors Yoon Tae-jin,Yang Dong-hyun and Kim Nam-gook|
The Ministry of Health and Welfare has selected the technology as the first “new medical technology,” in the field of 3D printing as it has proved its safety and efficacy, it added.
Congenital cardiac anomalies are difficult to perform as it has a different structure expected from preoperative CT examinations due to the overlapping of two or more heart diseases or small-sized heart.
However, using the patient-specific 3D cardiac model, it is possible to design a 3D model which is similar to the actual patient's heart, as well as the disease type, and valve position.
The process starts with the department of radiology constructing various transparent 3D models that shares a similar color and texture of an actual heart. Afterward, the surgical professor performs the surgery simulation and decides the operation plan, and then goes into the actual operation.
Until now, the team has had to commission the heart model from the Children's Hospital of the University of Toronto in Canada, which has used the technology since 2013. However, the process took at least a month for the team to get the 3D heart model.
To confirm the safety and efficacy of the 3D model Professor Yoon and his team used the technology on 37 patients from July 2017 to October 2018.
As a result, the 3D model helped shorten the time as it prevented any change in plans during the operation as the technology allowed them to identify which part of the patient's heart is malformed and which procedure is optimal.
“As the 3D printing surgery simulation technology for cardiac anomalies has proved its safety, we can widely apply it to pediatric patients with complex cardiac anomalies,” Professor Yoon said. “The model will help not only the surgical outcomes but also provide information about the surgery to caregivers with young children.”
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