Hospitals Are Printing 3D Hearts To Help In Surgeries


The doctors and surgeons at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria are generating and printing 3D models of the hearts of their patients to diagnose their diseases and treat them. Though the practice is not prevalent, the use of 3D technology for the provision of improved medical care is gaining popularity.


Image Source: Phil Velasquez / Chicago Tribune


4-years-old Myla was born with numerous Swiss-cheese-like holes in the bottom of her heart. When she reached two years of age, her health began to deteriorate badly, and doctors decided that surgery was the only option to save her life. Dr Mark Plunkett studied the 3D printed model of her heart till he was certain he knew exactly what to do. Without the 3D model of Myla’s heart, he wouldn’t have been so sure:

“There was a significant possibility that I would get in there, try to patch over this area, and not necessarily get all of the holes.”

Myla’s mother, Heather Kramer said that her recovery has been miraculous:

“If you saw her, you’d think nothing ever happened to this child.”


Image Source: Phil Velasquez / Chicago Tribune


The OSF HealthCare and the federal National Institutes of Health are looking forward to establishing a partnership with the American Heart Association to help more patients by producing high-quality 3D printed models of the heart.

They also want to set up a database of the 3D printed hearts of the patients with the congenital heart problems. Most of the heart defects require multiple surgeries while some are easier to fix. Apart from facilitating the surgeon, the 3D printed heart models are helpful in explaining the problem to the parents and reassure them about the doctor’s plan. The paediatric cardiologist at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, Dr Matthew Bramlet said:

“That understanding, that’s a precious thing for a family that’s getting ready to go through surgery on their child.”




The engineering team at the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center of the OSF HealthCare in Peoria takes an MRI, or CT scan of patient’s heart. The scanned images are then run through the software that allows them to print 3D plaster composite hearts. Bramlet who is the Director Advanced Imaging and Modeling at the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center said that a heart could be printed in up to two days. The 3D printed hearts are provided free of cost to the patients. Using a third party to 3D print the plastic models of the patient’s hearts will cost up to $3000.

Pretty cool development, isn’t it?

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