Heart specialists at Spectrum Health, a consortium of 12 non-profit hospitals in West Michigan
announced they’ve successfully 3D printed the first model of a heart that utilizes multiple imaging techniques in a single, detailed print.
The hybrid 3D heart model is much more detailed compared to the traditional heart models created with standard imaging techniques. The 3D heart model designed by Spectrum Heath, one of the leading healthcare providers in the U.S is set to be used by hospitals nationwide.
Spectrum Health designed a new method of creating 3D scans and prints of human hearts. The consortium implemented a hybrid process that is combination of CT and MRI scanning and a ultrasound process called 3D echocardiography. By incorporating these three technologies, Spectrum Health was able to design the world’s first detailed 3D printed heart model that can be used in hospitals.
Lead author of the proof-of-concept study and cardiac sonographer Jordan Gosnell explained to MLive.com, “Hybrid 3D printing integrates the best aspects of two or more imaging modalities, which can potentially enhance diagnosis, as well as interventional and surgical planning. Previous methods of 3D printing utilize only one imaging modality, which may not be as accurate as merging two or more datasets.”
All of the different imaging techniques used in the innovative process designed by Spectrum Health enables doctors to create extremely detailed model of the patient’s heart. Such feature would allow doctors to plan surgeries and other minimal surgical processes accurately, raising the probability of success of a heart surgery.
To create a fully customized 3D scan and print of a patient’s heart, doctors first must scan the exterior anatomy of the heart with a CT scanner. Then, conceptualize the interior of the heart with a MRI scanner, and finally 3d print the model of a human heart through a process called 3D transesophageal echocardiography.