For four years of her life, Mia Gonzalez suffered from constant bouts of flu, colds and pneumonia. She was diagnosed with asthma, and appropriate medication was prescribed. But later it turned out that her original problem wasn’t the asthma; it was a double aortic arch that built up undue pressure on her windpipe, preventing her from properly breathing or coughing up phlegm.
The surgeons at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami decided to come up with a 3D printed heart to transplant in her. They put the machine they had received a week ago to good use, and soon printed out an artificial heart.
This artificial heart enabled the surgeons involved in the later surgery to practice out their incisions and technique beforehand. Director of pediatric cardiovascular surgery Dr. Redmond Burke, carried around the model, showing it to other surgeons as he sought their advice on the procedure.
“Without the model, I would have been less certain about (operating on Mia) and that would have led me naturally to make a larger incision that could possibly cause more pain and a longer recovery time,” Burke said.
This Florida hospital is one of the 75 out of 200 globally that uses 3D printing in surgeries, The technique of 3D heart printing has now been used on 25 patients with congenital heart diseases successfully by Burke and his colleagues at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.