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3D printing aids doctors in heart surgery

KOCHI: Paediatric cardiologists at a private hospital in Kochi relied on 3D printing technology to create a model of their 11-year-old patient’s heart prior to performing complex multiple surgeries to fix anomalies. The girl from Thrissur was diagnosed with dextrocardia (condition in which your heart points toward the right side of your chest instead of the left side). She was also suffering from abnormal positions of left and right ventricles and two holes on the wall of the heart (ventricular septum) leading to a dip in oxygen level in her blood. The 3D printing technology helped them create the replica of her heart in its real size and features. Amritha, daughter of auto driver Dinesh Babu and Anitha, was diagnosed with multiple heart disorders when she was an infant. “Dextrocardia is a rare condition. The girl’s ventricles were in superior-inferior (one on the top of the other) relationship unlike the normal right side-left side positioning. She had two holes in the heart’s wall. Moreover, the aorta which carries pure blood to different parts of the body was connected to the right ventricle which contains impure blood. So, the blood supplied to her body was a mix of pure and impure,” said paediatric cardiology professor Dr Mahesh, who heads 3D printing lab of Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Kochi. Moreover, there was a block in the pulmonary artery carrying blood from the right ventricle to the lungs for oxygenation. The girl underwent two life-saving surgeries – Glenn shunt and BT shunt – as an infant which helped her gain an oxygen saturation of up to 85%. In July 2018, the doctors conducted complex surgeries to fix the holes in her heart’s wall and ensure pure blood flow to aorta. “We took the 3D images of the girl’s heart and made a real-size replica. A team of doctors – including US-based Indian cardiologist Dr Mohan Reddy and AIMS paediatric cardiologist Dr Krishna Kumar studied it. We then conducted a mock surgery on the model heart. This helped us reduce the time required for the surgery, acquire precision and avoid complications,” said Dr Brijesh Kottayil, consultant cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, AIMS, Kochi. The surgery, costing Rs 3 lakh, was conducted with financial support from Genesis Foundation, an NGO that facilitates treatment for critically ill and underprivileged children with heart disorders. The condition of our daughter has improved a lot. The bluish colour in her body has disappeared,” said Babu, who was in the hospital with her daughter to attend the first consultation scheduled two months after the surgery.

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