Medical applications for 3D printing: HeartPrint model from Materialise

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Bradley White looking at the 3D model of his heart by Materialise, with the heart printed in a flexible transparent material and the tumour in a hard opaque material

Remember the days, they weren’t that long ago, when we ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ over the capabilities of 3D printing. This technology has served up everything from scarves to unmanned aerial vehicles, and not much amazes anymore.

But one area where pioneering 3D printing technologies is very exciting is in medical applications.

One such example is HeartPrint, Materialise‘s service for providing 3D printed cardiovascular models from medical image data, which was recently used by doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to determine the best treatment for Bradley White, a teenager born with a tumour.

White was born with a golf ball-sized tumour in his heart. During his short life, he has been in and out of hospital for various heart surgeries. More recently, suffering from an erratic heartbeat caused by the tumour, he has been back to the Children’s Hospital Medical Centre.

Dr. Michael Taylor, director of advanced imaging at The Heart Institute, and his team contacted Materialise to create a 3D-printed replica of Bradley’s heart using the Mimics Innovation Suite software from his CT scan data.


Using Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite software a model of White’s heart was created

The resulting true-to-life 3D printed HeartPrint model allowed the physicians to better understand the complex relationship of the tumour and how best to proceed.

“I think 3D Printing will clinically take us to the next generation of imaging. This is our future,” says Dr. David Morales, Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

The tumour was printed in a hard opaque material making it visible against the surrounding anatomical structures, which was printed in a flexible transparent material

As for White, holding his ‘heart’ in his hands, instead of merely seeing it as an image on a computer screen, allowed him and his family understand his unique anatomy.

“I always thought my tumour was the size of a quarter and didn’t realise how large it was until I saw the [Materialise] model. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen by far. I’m looking forward to showing my friends,” says White.

Watch the video below for an interview with White and his clinicians at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.


3D-Printed HeartPrint® Model Helps 16-Year-Old Heart Tumor Patient from Materialise NV on Vimeo.

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