3D Printing

3D Printed Aorta Model Treats Aneurysm in 17-Year-Old

There’s no shortage of stories about patient-specific, 3D printed pre-surgical models saving the lives of patients.  And there’s no shortage of such stories coming from 3D printing service provider and software developer Materialise.  The company is among the first with an entire division and software devoted to 3D printing in the medical field and the company’s HeartPrint services and Mimics Innovation Suite software has, once again, contributed to saving lives a recent heart procedure.

At the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, heart specialists were able to benefit from a 3D printed replica of 17-year-old Ariana Smith’s heart. After discovering that her son had a heart murmur, Smith’s mom, Jacqueline Foster, took all of her four children to have electrocardiograms performed.  Soon, the doctors were conducing a cardiac catheterization on the teenager, with the worry that she might have heart abnormalities, at which point, it was discovered that Ariana was suffering from a large and complex aortic aneurysm, something that could lead to life-threatening issues in the future.

Participating in COAST II trial (COarctation of the Aorta Stent Trial), a clinical trial for specially lined aortic stents, the Children’s Hospital of Michigan was ideal for expanding the artery and tackling the problem. The surgery to planing the stent, coated in a lining that blocks blood from entering the aneurysm, would be a difficult one for such a complex aneurysm, however.  Dr. Daisuke Kobayashi, the cardiologist looking after Ariana, explains, “Ariana’s condition was extensively discussed with our pediatric cardiovascular surgeons and cardiologists in order to provide the best treatment and outcome. Surgical therapy was a high-risk operation for her age and anatomy which could lead to possible complications with her aorta.”


To better prepare for the surgery, then, the hospital turned to a Materialse branch based in Plymouth, Michigan, which converted a CT scan of Arian’s heart, using the company’s Mimics Innovation Suite software, and 3D printed a life-like copy of her aorta, through their HeartPrint 3D printing services.  The team was then able to better prepare for the surgery and anticipate potential problems.

ariana smith gets 3D printed aorta model madeDr. Daniel Turner, who participated in Arian’s care, explains just how: “Using the 3D printed model of Ariana’s aorta, we performed a ‘practice-run’ or simulation in the cath lab, where we actually placed a stent into the model. This allowed us to precisely plan the procedure and see how the stent responded in her unique and tortuous anatomy. Then, when we performed Ariana’s actual procedure, we had a good idea of how it was going to go.”

In the end, no surgery was necessary and, with the stent and a night in the catheterization lab, Ariana was back home the next day.  Turner continues, “We anticipate that Ariana will not require surgery to treat this condition. Dr. Kobayashi will follow her closely in the office. Most importantly, this experience will allow us to treat future patients more safely with the use of 3D printing technology. This is only the beginning.”

The video below describes the entire process in further detail, but this story is just one recent success story brought about by 3D printed surgical models.  Materialise will be present at Inside 3D Printing in New York, as a part of 3D Print Week, to discuss these stories and more, both through their expo booth and when CEO Wilfried Vancraen gives the keynote on April 17.