Cutting edge 3D printing software for children with congenital heart disease is being used in Southampton hospitals. Quadrant Health meets with John Munro, CEO of Wessex Heartbeat Charity, to discuss how the project will improve the diagnosis of heart conditions and what relief it brings to parents.
This ground-breaking technology converts standard 2D imaging, both CT and MRI, into a 3D structure. The structure can then be printed so cardiologists and surgeons can explore the issues in more detail.
We can print the heart out and dissect it like you could a real heart
Not only does it print a to-scale version of the child’s heart, but it also prints out the defects. John Murro told Quadrant Health: “it has been unbelievable. We can print the heart out and dissect it like you could a real heart, and you can see the issue directly. You can practice the repair in real-time on your desk.”
Less invasion means faster recovery
Benefits of this technology extend beyond diagnosis. In terms of the actual surgery, this technology improves the invasiveness of procedures. This, in turn, improves recovery post-surgery.
Without the 3D tech, John explained that the critical care of babies can be hampered. He said: “when you are going into any type of operation without all the information there are unknowns. Especially if it is a baby going into the operation you might plan the operation for an hour and the surgeon ends up being in there for 8 hours. That isn’t great for the baby or the family.”
Physical hearts provide much-needed relief for parents
The mental health of parents whose children are undergoing such intense surgery is massively impacted. This 3D tech aims to relieve stress as cardiologists can physically show them their child’s heart.
To think that with the help of this technology and the Doctor’s skill, it saved our son’s life
One family whose four-day-old son’s heart was printed before surgery said: “when the doctors let us hold Archie’s 3D heart, we were stunned. To think that with the help of this technology and the Doctor’s skill, it saved our son’s life.”
John extended: “3D printing is essential in both the care for the patient but also the families too. When you’re sitting in the room you feel good because that is a little child’s life about to be changed through new technology.”
Wessex Heartbeat Charity relies on donations to pay the licence fee each year. You can access the donation page here.