3D-Printed Hearts — A Training Tool for Canadian Surgeons via Norfolk News

3d printed heart

Interesting article today out of Canada and the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, which is working with 3D printing technology to help with clinical education:

About a dozen trainees — from Canada and such countries as Norway, Oman, Mexico and the United States — have come to watch master surgeons demonstrate the highly complicated techniques used to repair a number of congenital heart abnormalities and to safely practise those skills on models of their own. Three-dimensional copies have been created of five hearts from real infants with cardiac anomalies using a high-tech 3D-printer, which almost perfectly reproduces the organ’s structure using a photopolymer resin, based on sophisticated MRI and CT imaging.

“Each of the models represents a very specific form of disease that is very different,” says Dr. Glen Van Arsdell, chief of cardiovascular surgery at Sick Kids. “I can look at the model and tell you what the diagnosis is.” The 3D-printed hearts — some orange, others whitish in colour — were produced by Dr. Shi-Joon Yoo, a cardiac radiologist at the hospital.


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Depending on its size, a duplicate of a child’s heart can take anywhere from four to 12 hours to produce, as layer upon layer of the resin is built up, he says. While the current cost is somewhat prohibitive – estimated at about $2,000 per model — Yoo says the technology means hundreds of copies can be printed after imaging a single child’s heart to demonstrate a particular defect.

“Anybody can practise on the same structure, so that is the real value of that.” Van Arsdell says the trainees have come to Toronto to learn procedures that would typically take years to learn by watching and assisting senior surgeons before they would be allowed to perform the operation on their own. For some, such expertise isn’t available in their home countries.

Read the full article on the Norfolk News website!


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