3D-Printed Aortas Advise Doctors on Best Choice for Heart Patients

Patient-specific models in high-tech heart simulator test options, prevent complications

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A 3D-printed replica of a patient’s aorta is tested in a high-tech heart simulator. The experiment can test different heart valve types and positions to find what will work best for the patient and prevent complications.

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Engineers are exploring applications for 3D printers in the medical field, and the newest research is now going from the lab to the operating room. Experts at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center use CT scans to model a patient’s aorta, then create a 3D-printed replica down to its exact texture based on the calcification in a patient’s tissue.

    “Using a simulator in a lab, we can replicate what happens in a patient’s left ventricle,” said Prasad Dasi, PhD, a biomedical engineer at The Ohio State University College of Engineering. “We pump a blood-like substance through the simulator, controlling the contraction, expansion and pressure to match that unique patient’s anatomy.”

    The simulations allow them to observe the type of valve and specific placement that’s best for that patient in order to avoid complications such as leaks, coronary blockages and blood clots.

  Dasi and his research team meet weekly with doctors to decide together which approach is best for the patient.

  “The ability to try and predict which valve will rest in there the most effectively, have the least amount of leakage and not impinge upon adjacent structures is critical,” said Dr. Scott Lilly, an interventional cardiologist and co-director of the structural heart program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “These 3D models and discussions have directly informed how we approach many valve replacement procedures.”

    Without this technology, doctors use their best judgment based on CT imaging, the patient’s history and experience with various valve options. Sometimes, potential complications surface after the aortic valve is placed.

  “By doing these experiments, we can try to understand the potential problems for that patient and avoid them before surgery,” said Dasi.

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Prasad Dasi, PhD (left) of The Ohio State University College of Engineering tests a 3D-printed aorta in a high-tech simulator that replicates what happens in a specific patient’s heart. The experiments allow experts to test different aortic valve replacement options to help doctors prevent complications in the operating room.

Dr. Scott Lilly reviews a scan of a patient’s heart at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The scans are used to create a 3D-printed replica of the patient’s aorta and valve structure so experts can explore various options and avoid complications before valve replacement surgery.

Bernice Belcher, 78, takes her blood pressure daily along with diet and exercise to stay heart healthy. 3D modeling of her heart structure guided doctors at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to perform open heart surgery to replace her aortic valve, rather than using a transcatheter method.

A 3D-printed replica of a patient’s aorta is tested in a high-tech heart simulator. The experiment can test different heart valve types and positions to find what will work best for the patient and prevent complications.

Dr. Scott Lilly performs transcatheter aortic valve replacement at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. A unique collaboration with biomedical engineers at The Ohio State University College of Engineering helps him choose the best option for each patient using a customized 3D model to test various options before valve replacement.

Prasad Dasi, PhD reviews a computer model of a patient’s heart with a graduate student at The Ohio State University College of Engineering. He’s partnered with doctors at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to simulate specific patient conditions to help prevent complications from aortic valve replacement.