Two in one: Hybrid 3D printing integrates multiple modalities

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 - 3D printed heart model
3D printed heart model
Source: Materialise

Researchers have integrated CT with 3D transesophageal echocardiography (3DTEE) to create a 3D model of a patient’s heart, marking the first time multiple modalities have been combined to support 3D printing.

Congenital heart experts from Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital discussed the technique, as well as potential for MRI to be added as a third imaging tool, last week at CSI 2015, the Catheter Interventions in Congenital, Structural and Valvular Heart Diseases Congress in Frankfurt, Germany.

"Previous methods of 3D printing utilize only one imaging modality, which may not be as accurate as merging two or more datasets,” said Jordan Gosnell, cardiac sonographer at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and lead author of the study, in a press release. The hybrid models are more detailed and anatomically accurate, which could improve diagnosis and surgical planning, Gosnell added.

Joseph Vettukattil, MD, co-director of the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Congenital Heart Center and senior author of the study, recently demonstrated the feasibility of 3DTEE for use in 3D printing of congenital heart disease.

Each imaging modality has a strength, according to Vettukattil. CT enhances visualization of the heart’s outside anatomy, while 3DTEE is best for visualizing valve anatomy. MRI is superior for imaging the interior of the heart, including the right and left ventricles.

“The model will promote better diagnostic capability and improved interventional and surgical planning, which will help determine whether a condition can be treated via transcatheter route or if it requires surgery," said Vettukattil.

With the proof-of-concept study complete, further research will be required to evaluate the efficacy of hybrid 3D printed models in treatment decision making.