3D printing technology has helped so many sectors and has revolutionized the way we perceive things. But nothing amazes us more than the role of 3DP in the field of medical sciences. The pioneering contribution made by 3DP to this sector is very exciting. Human tissues, prosthetics and now proto- type human organs! The list is endless.
Materialise has become very famous in and around North America because of a service that it is providing to patients with a heart problem. The service is known as the HeartPrint- it provides 3D printed cardiovascular models from medical data’s like CT scan. These models are helpful for doctors who want to get an idea of the real problem. Recently this service came into the limelight as it was used to 3D print the heart of a teenager named Bradley White.
The 16 years old teenager has always had a problem of an irregular heartbeat. The doctors discovered that he had a tumor in his heart when he was only 3 years old. In this short life span of 16 years he has gone through several open heart surgeries and also a defibrillator was implanted to protect him from sudden cardiac death as a young child. Recently he had an erratic heartbeat and was admitted to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Dr. Michael Taylor, the director of advanced imaging at the Heart Institute contacted the Materialise office and asked them to create a replica of White’s heart so that they could understand exactly what the problem was.
After the model was ready, the doctors could understand the relationship of the tumor to the heart in a better way. As White says, “I always thought my tumor was the size of a quarter and didn’t realize how large it was until I saw the [Materialise] model. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen by far. I’m looking forward to showing my friends.”
This model helped White’s doctors, cardiologist Dr. Timothy Knilans, and cardiac surgeon Dr. David Morales to a great degree as they realized that operating on the tumor could be dangerous to the health of Bradley. Instead of operating the doctors turned to plan B of inserting Catheters in a blood vessel in the arm, groin or neck of the patient. These catheters are connected to the heart via blood vessels. After establishing this connection, heat or coldness is applied in order to destroy the abnormal heart tissue which was the reason behind the abnormal heart rhythm.
Dr, David Morales who is a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital said, “I think 3D Printing will clinically take us to the next generation of imaging. This is our future.”
Bradley can now be like any other normal teenager taking part in sports and various other activities. 3D printing has definitely changed the lives of many as it gives patients as well as the doctors of what’s going on inside the human body.