3-D printing of heart : Moving from the labs to bed side
3D printing technology is growing at a rapid pace. Both cardiologists and cardiac surgeons are expected to benefit a lot.It helps us in understanding deformed anatomy in complex congenital heart disease as well as planning for synthetic cardiac implants.
Currently, the technology is limited only by the chemical material used to print the heart and its components. The American chemical society is working at it to create more realistic heart models. Once we master this, biological printing with synthetic tissue equivalents is the ultimate aim.
- Planning cardiac reconstructive surgeries in congenital heart disease.
- Aortic grafts in Marfan syndrome and other endovascular grafts.
- Valve prototyping
What could be possible in the future?
A dream possibility is that, 3D printing of a patient’s own coronary artery that is diseased with an exact replica that may either act as a surgical graft or deliverable percutaneously.
It is a merger of biology, chemistry, tissue engineering, and computing. Already it is used in specific conditions.(How about ordering a designer RVOT in severe TOF ?) We are approaching fascinating times in cardiology. Of course, everything would come at a price. We can reap the benefits of this path-breaking progress in science, if and only if, technology is regulated well, Indications are liberally coated with common sense.
A review article on 3D printing in cardiology Nature review