Doctors Make Use of 3D Printing of Heart for Lifesaving Procedures
3D printing is now being used to further the leaps made in the field of medicine and surgery. The three dimensional printing technology can now be used by doctors to build an exact replica of a patient’s heart so that they would be able to determine the size and means of insertion for a Watchman device, a stroke risk reduction option for those who want a more radical alternative to extended terms of warfarin therapy.
The Watchman device, which was just recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is a permanent implantation that would ultimately improve the quality of living of the patient. To determine the exact size and placement of the Watchman device, a computed tomography scan of the heart is required so that doctors can have a blueprint of the heart and the 3D printer would be able to follow it.
The 3D printing technology converts images into a life-size replica of an object. CT scans of a patient’s heart serve well to act as a practice module for doctors who are going to insert the Watchman device. With this, the medical team would be able to prepare themselves, and the device itself, for the actual operation that will be done to the patient.
3D models of a patient’s heart are helpful. They will be able to accurately determine the size of the device and the mode of placement that should be done to safely insert it. It would act as a means to simulate the procedure itself and find out if the device would fit correctly in accordance with the anatomical structure of the patient’s heart.
Dr. James Otton of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney, Australia, supports this method of building blueprints of a patient’s heart to find out more about the condition and the nature of the procedure to the patient themselves. The appendages of the heart are very complex, so any means of help would be advantageous. With 3D printing, doctors can be more accurate and more set in the preparation and the actual execution of a procedure.
A material that is likened to rubber is the mold that shapes the data from the 3D printing device. It’s like molding clay, but a machine is the one that performs the actual shaping. It is accurate down to the smallest details. A printing of a 3D model of a patient’s left atrium could be done within 30 minutes and CT scans really contribute to that reduction in printing time. It’s also affordable because the 3D printing would only cost about $100 to $200. It’s a great bargain for a life-saving procedure.
Dr. Otton does not want to overstate the usefulness of the 3D printing technology. He wants to stress its effectiveness when used for better purposes. He also thinks that because of such an advantage, 3D printing may be used more frequently in the future. It’s true that it could really be a means to help patients recover from their maladies. Doctors can now be more adequately equipped because they have an accurate map of their field of work.