(Photo : Wikimedia Commons/Giovanni Biglino, Despina Koniordou, Marisa Gasparini, Claudio Capelli, Lindsay-Kay Leaver, Sachin Khambadkone, Silvia Schievano, Andrew M. Taylor, Jo Wray) 3D-Printed Heart Replica Functions Like The Real Thing; Could Help Doctors Determine The Best Implant For Patients
A 3D-printed heart could be the solution to the need for heart implants. A new study developed a custom, robotic heart using 3D printing and it worked like an actual heart.
3D-Printed Heart Replica Works Like An Actual Heart
MIT engineers are working on helping doctors address their patient's need for a specific heart form and function through the use of 3D printing technology. They developed a custom robotic heard from the images of a patient's heart and made it work like the patient's actual heart, MIT News reported.
They started by converting the medical images of the patient's heart into a three-dimensional computer model. They used a polymer-based ink that, once printed and cured, can squeeze and stretch, similarly to a real beating heart. It resulted in a soft, flexible shell similar to the shape of the patient's own heart.
They used the same approach to 3D-print a patient's aorta.
To copy the heart's pumping action, the team constructed sleeves similar to blood pressure cuffs that wrap around a printed heart and aorta.
Each sleeve has a bottom that mimics bubble wrap with an intricate pattern. When the sleeve is attached to a pneumatic system, researchers may adjust the airflow to rhythmically contract the heart and inflate the bubbles in the sleeve, simulating the heart's pumping function.
They can also enlarge a separate sleeve surrounding a printed aorta to compress the vessel and tuned it to mimic aortic stenosis -- a condition in which the aortic valve narrows - causing the heart to work harder to force blood through the body.
3D-Printed Heart Application
Ellen Roche, co-author of the study said the new study was very encouraging because they did not only 3D-print the heart's anatomy, but they were also able to mimic its mechanics and physiology. The 3D-printed, robotic heart matched the patients' flows and pressures, Science Daily noted.
According to Christopher Nguyen, also co-author of the study, once the custom 3D-printed heart is up and running, the clinicians can compare implants of different sizes to see the best fit and flow for the patient and use that implant. The clinicians are looking forward to doing this to their patients in the future.
Roche added that the patient-specific replicas could help individuals with unusual and difficult cardiac geometries.
The target audience for minimally invasive treatments may grow if interventions are designed inclusively for a wide variety of anatomies and tested throughout this range.
The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Heart Lung Blood Institute supported the research. The study was published in Science Robotics.
3D Printing And Customization
One of the benefits of 3D printing technology is customization or personalization. It can tailor to every customer's requirements, which was used in the research to replicate each patient's heart.
In the medical field, the goal is to personalize an item to cater to a specific patient's needs. Personalization through 3D printing is already prevalent in the medical industry, according to Self CAD. For instance, Sonova, a market leader in hearing aids, has been personalizing items to create a patient-specific product.
Check out more news and information on Bioprinting in Science Times.
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