3D Printing of the Heart

When it comes to heart conditions, the right diagnostic tools make all the difference. When needed, our innovative 3D printing allows us to create a physical replica of your heart to evaluate its unique anatomy.

No heart is the same, so our doctors may use this 3D printing of the heart to develop customized treatment plans for complex cases and high-risk procedures. Taking this approach keeps you safe and delivers effective treatment.

3D printing of the heart: The Henry Ford Health System difference

While labs across the country create 3D heart models for research, the Center for Structural Heart Disease is unique. One of our expert doctors, Dee Dee Wang, M.D., and her team specialize in creating 3D heart models specifically for patient care. They have made more than 1,000 3D-printed hearts.

We have used heart imaging and 3D printing of the heart to improve care since 2013. While most programs don’t even offer 3D printing, we have three in-house 3D printers at our main campus.

Benefits of 3D printing of the heart

Creating a detailed, accurate model means your care team understands your heart before your procedure. You benefit from:

  • Individualized approach, with a perfect fit
  • Safest, most effective treatment
  • Shorter procedure
  • Reduced risk of complications
  • Quicker recovery

How does 3D printing of the heart work?

Our team uses the most current heart scans to take highly detailed images of your heart. 3D imaging captures all sides of your heart, while 4D imaging also records movement. These detailed, moving images help us evaluate your heart’s valves and chambers. We capture their size and shape, as well as map the angles of connecting blood vessels.

We send this information to one of our 3D printers, which builds up layers of plastic to create an exact model of your heart.

While everyone we see receives the same advanced imaging, only certain people need 3D printing of the heart. For example, we create 3D heart models for people with a higher stroke risk from atrial fibrillation or who need a high-risk procedure.

3D printing for heart treatment planning

By creating a 3D model, your team can personalize your treatment recommendations. The team uses the replica of your heart to explain the procedure to you. We’ve found that people have an easier time understanding what will happen when they see their heart right in front of them. They feel more comfortable with the proposed treatment and more empowered.

After you agree to a treatment plan, our experts meet to review your model and discuss other details of your case. They use your replica heart to find the right treatment device and device size for your needs. They also identify the type of equipment needed for the procedure, such as the catheters (tubes) used to deliver treatment.

Before your procedure, your doctors take the model and further study your heart. They practice the procedure and create a roadmap for each step. This preparation helps them provide safer and more effective care, in less time. By the time you come in for your procedure, it’s as if our team has already held your heart in our hands.

Conditions and treatments helped by 3D printing of the heart

We use 3D heart models to plan many minimally invasive procedures, including:

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