3D Printed Heart Models help Doctors Optimize Surgical Procedures

3D Printed Heart Models help Doctors Optimize Surgical Procedures


3D Printed Heart Models Help Doctors Optimize Surgical Plans for Complex Operations

3D Printing Cases – Medical 

3D printed heart models are helping doctors run through surgical plans for complex operations accurately.

Doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center are exploring new avenues to improve surgical preparations and patient care.


PolyJet 3D Printed Heart 3D printing surgical guides stratasys Objet260 Connex2


A virtual walkthrough of the operation in with a 3D model

3D printed anatomical models derived from accurate patient scans enable doctors to “practice” surgery in advance and assess possible complications for delicate procedures, improving the outcome of operations. This practice is an important function in ‘visualizing’ the actual operation and eliminating some of the complexity of the actual operation beforehand.

Problems and challenges can be targeted, discussed and solved before the patient is on the operating table and the procedures to take place are still fresh in the doctor’s minds when they are operating. This cuts down on error as well as on time in the operating room.

Dr. Ryan Moore and Dr. Michael Taylor from Cincinnati Children’s Heart Institute used Damon’s CT scan to generate a 3D reconstruction of his heart and convert it to a 3D printable file.

Working closely with the CEAS Digital Fabrication Lab manager Sam Antoline, and his team of undergraduate engineering students, the 3D printed heart was fabricated with PolyJet-based 3D printing technology on the Objet260 Connex2 3D Printer from Stratasys using semi-translucent ABS and rubber-like TangoPlus materials.

Antoline’s team was able to simulate characteristics of a human heart, experimenting with material-rigidity values (Shore A values) to create a model for surgeons and other medical personnel to use for pre-surgery planning.


3D printed surgical model heart


A tool for challenging and rarely performed surgical procedures

31-year-old Damon Mallott was born with a complex congenital heart lesion for which he underwent creation of a single pumping chamber for his heart after multiple procedures as a child. The surgeries had proven to be a success, until recently when he started to develop severe heart-rhythm irregularities and a large blood clot in his heart.

 In order to improve his condition, he would need to undergo a challenging and rarely performed surgical procedure by Dr. David Morales, chief of cardiothoracic surgery. With the growing experience of 3D printing of congenital heart lesions at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Damon’s case provided the perfect opportunity to utilize a life-size scale model of his heart to stage his procedure.

This case is just one of over 20 successful heart surgeries performed as a result of surgical preparations with 3D printed heart models created through the collaboration of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Heart Institute and the University of Cincinnati CEAS digital fabrication laboratory.


Growing demand for 3D printing for training in universities

This type of pre-planning has an enormous impact on patient care and recovery. Additionally, the models serve as a source for educational tools—both for surgical training and educating patients and their families—about medical conditions and possible complications.

“We’re seeing a real demand for 3D printing technology at the university,” said Sam Antoline. “We’re producing prototypes and models for undergraduate capstones and university research across various departments. The detail we can achieve with this technology, and the ability to print with digital composite materials will definitely have a role within the university.”



If you want to explore how you can use 3D printing technology for medical or surgical use be sure to contact us to speak with one of our Medical 3D printing experts. 

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