3-D Printing Gets a Heart to Help Improve Valve Replacement Procedures

<p>Inside the 3-D printed model of a human heart valve, black regions represent the location of actual calcium deposits. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)</p>

Inside the 3-D printed model of a human heart valve, black regions represent the location of actual calcium deposits. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

Tens of thousands of patients each year are diagnosed with heart valve disease, with many in need of lifesaving surgery to treat the condition.

Now, researchers at the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute are working on a tool that could help cardiologists care for patients with the disease.

Using highly detailed imaging from CT scans, mechanical engineers are using 3-D printers to make an exact model of an individual patient’s heart valve. These one-of-a-kind models not only represent the size and proportion of the heart valve but can also mimic its physiological qualities — such as how it feels and responds to pressure.

The goal is to provide doctors with a new tool for planning procedures to treat aortic stenosis, a condition in which the valves in the left side of the heart narrow, restricting blood flow and potentially leading to heart failure. The condition is commonly associated with elderly patients, and its prevalence is thought to be on the rise as the population ages.

Read the complete article in Research Horizons magazine.

<p>Kan Wang, a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Tech, and Zhen Qian, chief of cardiovascular imaging research at Piedmont Heart Institute, inspect a printed heart valve. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)</p>

Kan Wang, a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Tech, and Zhen Qian, chief of cardiovascular imaging research at Piedmont Heart Institute, inspect a printed heart valve. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

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