Chinese surgeons have utilised 3D printing technology to perform two different paediatric heart surgeries. The surgeries took place at the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in Hunan province. According to local media this is the first time 3D printing has been used in paediatric cardiovascular surgery in the Southern Chinese province. The patients were 13 years-old and 3 years-old and are recovering well.
Using 3D printing for surgical planning enables surgeons to physically manipulate a model of the affected areas and this is incredibly beneficial for preparing for procedures. We’ve seen this recently in the case of the conjoined McDonald twins, in which 3D printing assisted their 27 hour-long surgery. In this case 3D Systems’ Virtual Surgical Planning service was used. This service from 3D Systems has also just been expanded to include assistance for cranial surgery.
In these Chinese cases, both surgeries were cardiovascular, with the 3 year-old treated for severe left ventricular outflow tract obstruction. The left ventricle is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood out from the heart and thus obstruction can have significant issues with the intake of oxygen, causing shortness of breath and fainting.
The older patient suffered from hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. This is a disease that affects the size of the heart and causes the myocardium (heart muscle) to enlarge: this can lead to fatal consequences. Symptoms of this disease tend not to be visible until sudden cardiac arrest.
Cardiologist Yang Yifeng, from the Second Xiangya Hospital spoke about this revolutionary use of 3D printing. He explained the surgeons used 1:1 scaled 3D printed replicas of the patient’s hearts. Which allowed the cardiologists to understand the specific afflictions in greater detail. According to Yang Yifeng, the patients are recovering well following the use of 3D printing in their surgical planning.
Featured image shows Xiangya Hospital’s 3D printed heart model. Image via Xiangya Hospital.