October 16, 2014 — A team of surgeons at New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital saved the life of a one-week-old baby with the aid of a 3-D printed model of the child’s heart. The 3-D model was used as a guide for surgery on the child, who was born with a complex and deadly form of congenital heart disease (CHD).
Emile Bacha, M.D., director of congenital and pediatric cardiac surgery at New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, and his team performed surgery when the baby was just one week old and weighed only 7 pounds. With the aid of the 3-D model, the team was able to repair all of the heart’s defects in a single procedure. Typically, babies born with this complex form of CHD require a series of three or four life-threatening surgeries.
“The baby’s heart had holes, which are not uncommon with CHD, but the heart chambers were also in an unusual formation, rather like a maze,” said Bacha, who is also chief of the division of cardiac, thoracic and vascular surgery at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and the Calvin F. Barber Professor of Surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S).
“In the past, we had to stop the heart and look inside to decide what to do. With 3-D printing technology, we are able to look at the inside of the heart in advance, giving us a road map for the surgery,” he added.
Prior to the surgery, a team of doctors led by Anjali Chelliah, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and assistant professor at P&S, diagnosed the baby with CHD while he was still in the womb, allowing time to develop the optimal treatment plan. After the baby was born, Chelliah worked closely with Materialise, a company that specializes in 3-D printing for healthcare, to create a model of the child’s heart with data taken from a low-dose CT scan performed just one day after the birth.
Only two days after receiving the data, the printer was able to produce an exact replica of the heart, allowing the doctors to understand every detail of the congenital defects.
Bacha and Chelliah are optimistic that 3-D printing technology will continue to improve outcomes for patients.
The 3-D printed model of the baby’s heart was paid for by Matthew’s Hearts of Hope, a non-profit organization that supports CHD patients and their families.
For more information: www.nyp.org