London doctors have made the headlines this week as they become the first medical staff ever to use a 3D printed heart model to improve surgical procedures and predict any dangers such as serious changes to a person’s heartbeat. It works by taking images from a CMR (cardiovascular magnetic resonance) scan and creating an exact replica of the subject’s heart, muscles, valves, and chambers.
The hospital where it was all discovered is the Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea, U.K, and Dr. Sonya Babu-Narayan has been lucky enough to make use of it. She commented, “Firstly, surgeons and other clinical team members are able to better grasp how a patient’s heart is affected by their condition. This leads to better care and allows us to diagnose and repair conditions with less need for invasive diagnostic procedures. Secondly, a 3D model can be a huge help with the communication between the clinical team and the patient. A 3D representation of the heart is so much clearer than anything we could put into words.”
This is the first time anyone has worked out what to do with the hundreds of images that are collected by a CMR scan which works by utilizing powerful magnets and radio waves to snap the pictures that replicate signs of heart scarring. Because of this, doctors now have a much better chance of accurately predicting a diagnosis such as those needing to have a pacemaker fitted to jumpstart their heart back into a regular rhythm. And it’s a nice touch for patients too, with one in particular, Jonathan Havre, saying, “I found the model of the heart gave me a real understanding of what was happening.”
More heart replicas are soon to be created with fundraising money from the hospital’s charity and could soon be used in hospitals and medical centers all across the globe.
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