3-D Printed Heart Helps to Save Baby's Life

October, 2014: A team led by Emile Bacha, MD, Chief, Congenital and Pediatric Cardiac Surgery, used a 3-D printer to facilitate a baby's heart surgery.

The baby was born with complex heart defects including many holes and malformations. Dr. Bacha's surgical team printed a 3-D model of the heart based on a CT scan, which they were able to study before operating. This process enabled them to plan exactly how they would approach the surgery, including the order of steps and where they would put patches and sutures.

According to Dr. Bacha, using the 3-D model made a significant impact on this baby's life. In the past, surgeons operating on babies with deformed hearts would have to open the heart, see the problem at the time of surgery, and decide on the spot how to best correct it. Having the 3-D model saved precious surgical time and facilitated a better, more complete operation. "The baby went from having a limited life expectancy to normal life expectancy. And instead of needing three or four surgeries to repair the multiple defects, we were able to correct all the defects in a single surgery."