Dr. Emile Bacha of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital went on CNBC’s Squawk Box Wednesday to explain a recent procedure where he used a 3D printed heart to save a two-week old baby.
The baby was suffering from a congenital heart defect, which creates “lots of holes” inside the heart. In the past, this type of surgery would require stopping the heart, opening the heart to look inside, and then deciding what to do in the moment. That method would only give a limited amount of time for surgeons to decide what to do.
But with 3D printing technology, Dr. Bacha was able to create a model of the deformed heart in advance so his team could plan ahead of the actual surgery. The model allowed his team to examine the heart and even cut it to know exactly what to do during the actual open-heart surgery.
“It made a huge difference because the baby went from needing 3 or 4 surgeries to needing just one surgery,” Dr. Bacha said. “He went from having limited lifespan to a normal life expectancy.”
Dr. Bacha said he used the baby’s MRI data and 3D printing technology from a company called Materialise to create the heart model.
It cost him about a few thousand dollars, but he said he expects the price to come down soon.
“For people like us in congenital heart surgery, who deal with complex 3D structures, it’s a huge advancement because now we don’t have any more surprises,” Dr. Bacha told CNBC. “We go to the operating room, confident that we know exactly what the anatomy is like, so our outcomes are obviously going to be better for the benefit of the patients.”
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