3D Model of Child’s Heart Helps Surgeons Save Life

Built in three pieces, the model is made from a flexible filament and cost about $600

Released: 24-Feb-2014 10:00 AM EST
Source Newsroom: University of Louisville
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Newswise — LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A 14-month-old boy in need of life-saving heart surgery is the beneficiary of a collaboration among University of Louisville engineers, physicians and Kosair Children’s Hospital.

Roland Lian Cung Bawi of Owensboro was born with four congenital heart defects and his doctors were looking for greater insights into his condition prior to a Feb. 10 operation.

Dr. Philip Dydynski, chief of radiology at Kosair Children’s Hospital, recently had toured the Rapid Prototyping Center at the University of Louisville’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering and became impressed with the 3D printing capabilities available there.

He asked the center’s operations manager, Tim Gornet, if a 3D model of the child’s heart could be constructed using a template created by images from a CT scan to allow doctors to better plan and prepare for his surgery. No problem, Gornet said.

The result of the Rapid Prototyping Center’s work was a model heart 1.5 times the size of the child’s. It was built in three pieces using a flexible filament and required about 20 machine hours – and only about $600 -- to make, Gornet said.

Once the model was built, Dr. Erle Austin III, cardiothoracic surgeon with University of Louisville Physicians, was able to develop a surgical plan and complete the heart repair with only one operation.

“I found the model to be a game changer in planning to do surgery on a complex congenital heart defect,” he said.

Roland was released from Kosair Children’s Hospital Feb. 14 and returned Feb. 21 for checkups with his doctors. His prognosis is good.

That’s good news for Gornet, whose work at the Rapid Prototyping Center routinely benefits manufacturers and heavy industry. Helping surgeons save a life was new territory for him.

“Knowing we can make somebody’s life better is exciting,” he said.
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