You don’t have to be a surgeon to figure out that performing heart surgery becomes even more difficult when it involves the life of an infant. There’s a lack of physical models that are dedicated to this particular type of surgery. Also, navigating the chest cavity of a child patient is a tricky one. 3D printing is, therefore, an ideal tool for preparing surgeons who will be dealing with very delicate and intricate operations.
11-month-old Lavesh Navedkar had a complex congenital DORV (Double Outlet Right Ventricle) heart defect when he was brought into doctors due to his slow weight gain.
His heart defect led doctors to explore a couple of routes, both of which involved heart surgery. In the end, they went for the riskier of the two surgical procedures, opting to form a tunnel for draining blood from the defect to the aorta, restoring normal blood flow to Lavesh’s heart.
The doctors came to the decision that 3D printing would provide the ideal pre-surgical planning tool.
They turned to Mumbai-based 3D printing and engineering company Sahas Softech LLP. The firm has a medical division devoted to 3D printing patient-specific implants and medical tools that can help aid patients like Lavesh.
Here comes the clever bit. The 3D printing company were able to take Lavesh’s MRI scan and turn it into a CAD model. It took them two days to create an exact replica of the eleven-month-old’s heart.
The beauty of these intricate 3D heart models is that they help surgeons and physicians assess the possibility of surgery and whether there was a chance of complications as a result of surgery.
With the 3D printed models, the surgeons were able to perform the operation on Lavesh with complete success. A doctor at the Indian hospital stressed that the operation on the eleven-month-old would have been difficult without the 3D printed heart. It would have been tricky to confidently repair the heart using an intra-cardiac tunnel or baffle.
Sahas Softech, as a result of Lavesh’s successful operation, are in now working with doctors to assess five more cases with DORV defects, at no cost. Doctors at the hospital believe that 3D printing could likely be used with other conditions, too. They are confident that the 3D printed heart models will help not only DORV patients but possibly other patients with other complex heart defects.