LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Doctors operating on a 14-month-old child with heart defects studied a 3-D replica of the child's heart to aid the successful surgery.
Roland Lian Cung Bawi's heart was riddled with defects before the surgery at Kosair Children's Hospital.
Roland's surgeon Dr. Erle Austin told The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/MjHPlC) he expected the surgery to be tricky and wanted a model that offered more detail than two-dimensional scans.
So his team contacted the University of Louisville engineering school, which used a 3-D printer to create a polymer model of Roland's heart.
"Once I had a model, I knew exactly what I needed to do and how I could do it," said Austin, who was able to reduce exploratory incisions, cut operating time and ensure that Roland wouldn't need follow-up operations. "It was a tremendous benefit."
Hospital officials said the Feb. 10 surgery was the first time 3-D printing was used for a pediatric heart patient in Kentucky.
The model provided crucial insight ahead of the operation.
"Some people think when you do heart surgery, you go in and can see everything. Well, to see everything, you have to slice through vital structures," said Austin. "Sometimes the surgeon has to guess at what's the best operation."
Roland, the son of Par Tha Sung and Sang Ceu Lian of Owensboro, was born with heart problems that included a hole in the heart and misaligned aorta and pulmonary artery.
Engineers created the 3-D model in about 20 hours on a $2,500 printer.
Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com