How 3D printing is improving heart surgery

I’ve written a few times recently about the growing role 3D printing is playing in healthcare, whether it’s in reducing the need for animal testing, producing better medical implants or helping surgeons to prepare for operations.

A recent paper highlights how 3D printing could help cariologists prepare for life-saving heart valve replacements by giving them realistic heart valve models to work from.

The researchers used medical imaging and 3D printing to perfect replicas of each patient’s heart valve, with the aim being to improve the success rate of transcatheter aortic valve replacements (TAVR) by reducing a complication known as paravalvular leakage.

“Paravalvular leakage is an extremely important indicator in how well the patient will do long term with their new valve,” the researchers say. “The idea was, now that we can make a patient-specific model with this tissue-mimicking 3D-printing technology, we can test how the prosthetic valves interact with the 3D-printed models to learn whether we can predict leakage.”

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