LA Cardiologist develops 3D printed heart model to save child’s life

Pediatric Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Frank Ing of Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles, developed a 3D printed model heart to save an infant’s life. Nate Yamane is an 18-year old child who developed a life-threatening heart condition. He required a stent to treat his weak arteries. Nate’s artery has narrowed to merely 9 millimeters and hence he needed a customized stent that had perfect measurements for his tiny organ.

CT Scans were carried out and a 3D printed heart model was created. Dr. Ing used the measurements to custom fit the tiny stent into the constricted artery. Their efforts were successful and the infant’s oxygen levels improved in just one night. Nate was born in 215 with a rare heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) with pulmonary atresia. This problem posed breathing troubles for the child immediately after birth. His pulmonary artery was obstructed, preventing blood flow from the heart to the lungs. Though the crisis was very well handled by Ing, the baby is still faced with complications. Nate’s pulmonary artery failed to form properly in the uterus and thus result in the complication named TOF.

In a typical case, the body responds by developing collateral arteries around the blocked artery. The blood can take this alternate course for flow. The vessels have to be built immediately after the birth. Within a month of his birth, Nate underwent two surgeries. Still, there were blockages discovered in the pulmonary arteries of both right and left branch. The right side blockage was opened with the balloon technology. The left side, however, required a stent.

Nate’s weight was not improving and in 2017, he was ready for the next surgery. Dr. Ing inserted the smaller stent into Nate’s right pulmonary artery. Nate’s oxygen levels improved drastically. This surgery was performed in front of an entire team of international cardiologists at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Nate’s condition remains stable and he has been gaining weight and getting stronger.

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