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AZ Tech Beat | September 22, 2018

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ASU and Phoenix Children’s Hospital build 3D printed hearts for pre-op strategies

ASU and Phoenix Children’s Hospital build 3D printed hearts for pre-op strategies
Ashley Garcia

Arizona State University and Phoenix Children’s Heart Center at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, which is the premier regional referral center in the Southwest and is the fifth-largest program of its kind in the country, have teamed up to perform what is believed to be the first virtual implantation of a pioneering artificial heart.

Physicians and ASU engineers are using 3D printing technology to develop heart models of cardiovascular flow dynamics for personalized pre-operative surgical planning and advanced imaging. It’s a project has recently won an innovative research award.

The ASU team is led by David Frakes, an assistant professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, two of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

PCH Heart_model_2 Photo Credit Desert Ridge Photography--Corey Schwartzcrop

Frakes has been working with the Tucson-based company SynCardia Systems Inc., which has developed the Total Artificial Heart for adult and pediatric patients with end-stage biventricular heart failure who are waiting for a permanent heart transplant.

“The Total Artificial Heart literally helps pump blood through a patient’s body because their own heart can’t,” says Frakes, explaining that the Total Artificial Heart isn’t a long-term solution, but it keeps patients stable until a heart for transplant is available.

Frakes’ team is using advanced software developed by the Belgium-based company Materialise to generate 3-D reconstructions of cardiovascular, respiratory and skeletal structures that provide a virtual screening of pediatric patients that helps ensure a proper fit of the artificial heart implanted into patients.

pch heart 3d 2

Frakes tells AZTB, “3D printing allows us to take a computer model, of an implanted medical device or a malformed heart for example, and express that model in real physical space. That capability is extremely valuable because surgeons operate in the real world, not inside computers. The evolution of this project has helped establish PCH and ASU, and the state of Arizona, as leaders in the cardiovascular 3D printing space.”

Frakes’ team performed a virtual implantation of the heart for a pediatric patient using Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite’s diagnostic technology to create a 3D reconstruction of an adolescent’s chest cavity from a computerized tomography (CT) scan, and then used a laser scan of the Total Artificial Heart to virtually place the heart into the chest cavity.

After the implantation, a clinical review and a series of measurements – called a virtual fit analysis – determined whether the Total Artificial Heart could properly fit into their patient, a little boy’s, chest cavity. Phoenix Children’s Hospital has adopted this procedure for use with all future Total Artificial Heart candidates.

The team has also developed a series of 3D models of hearts with congenital defects, designed for use in helping physicians plan surgical strategies based on the individual conditions of patients. The venture is called Heart in Your Hand.

The Materialise company recently licensed the entire Heart in Your Hand library of congenital heart defect models and is displaying them on its HeartPrint website.

Heart in Your Hand is also working with St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Phoenix to develop more 3-D congenital heart defect models for educational purposes.

“Materialise is the world’s largest 3-D printing service, meaning that Heart in Your Hand models will now be distributed all over the world,” Frakes says.

Stay connected on Twitter: Follow @PhxChildrens and @ASU for more information.

Images provided by Desert Ridge Photography/Corey Schwartz