Dr. Shi-Joon Yoo, a cardiac radiologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, has been making 3D printed models of infant congenital heart disease for 7 years. He founded the company 3D HOPE Medical. He hopes to improve treatment planning in cardiac surgery.
3D HOPE Medical creates flexible heart models from radiographic imaging. A replica of the child’s complex heart is 3D printed so the anatomy can be understood before surgery is attempted. The models are printed on the Objet260 Connex, which uses Polyjet 3D printing technology. The flexible material can be sutured similar to real heart tissue. Cardiac surgeons can use these models to practice procedures, and improve their precision and accuracy. These models can also be used for preoperative planning by allowing surgeons to see a patient’s unique anatomy before he or she is taken to the operating room.
Dr. Yoo has also developed a surgical simulation course for congenital heart problems. The course consists of 12 stations for 12 different congenital heart diseases and there are 4 copies of a model at each station so 4 users can train at the same time.
Some of these 3D printed heart models were used as part of a training program to train surgeons in surgery for infant congenital heart defects in January 2016 at the Hospital for Sick Children. The heart models were cut and sewn the same way they would be during the actual surgery.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. Yoo on March 15, 2016 to see his 3D printed infant heart models up close. The level of detail was amazing and the hearts were so small in the palm of my hand!
Dr. Yoo also established IMIB-CHD (International Medical Image Bank for Congenital Heart Diseases) where collaborators can upload image data for heart disease cases.
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