3D Imaging and Printing

Using 3D printing, our heart specialists are finding new ways to advance the standard of care for our patients with heart valve and other structural heart disease. Our goal is safe, effective care that helps you enjoy a better quality of life.

What is 3D printing?

At the Center for Structural Heart Disease at Henry Ford Hospital, one of our expert cardiologists, Dee Dee Wang, M.D., specializes in creating heart models using 3D printing.

To guide the printer, we capture highly detailed images of your heart, using 3D and 4-D scanning. (4-D adds the dimension of time to 3D images.) Then the sophisticated 3D technology “prints” the models by laying down layers of plastic. We use the heart models to step through your procedure for precise planning before you are on the table.

Unmatched expertise in 3D printing for heart treatment planning

Since 2013, we have been using our expert knowledge of 3D imaging and printing to improve our patients’ care. In fact, we are one of just a few programs in the country using 3D technology in our patient care and not just in a research study setting. That translates to safer, more effective treatment with better outcomes for you.

At the Center for Structural Heart Disease, we offer:

  • Patient safety: 3D technology helps us perform safer procedures in less time, which results in less pain and faster recoveries. Using exact replicas of a patient’s heart anatomy, we can precisely plan treatments ahead of time, instead of in the operating room during procedures.
  • Excellence in personalized care: We use 3D imaging and printing to fully understand your unique heart condition, so we can provide customized care specifically for you. Our expert specialists meet in a weekly team conference to not only discuss your case, but to see and feel your heart’s unique structure as a team. Doctors from every specialty needed to care for your condition are then able to develop the best plan for your treatment together.
  • Leading-edge care that brings hope to patients: Our internationally recognized team of specialists can help people whose conditions were previously considered untreatable. Our unmatched expertise in transcatheter procedures and technological advancements mean that whatever the patient’s structural heart condition is, we can treat it.

Advanced 3D imaging for structural heart treatment

Our expert imaging specialists use next-generation technology to provide highly detailed, 3D images of each patient’s heart. The advanced imaging tools we use include:

3D and 4-D CT (computed tomography) scan

This scan uses specialized X-ray equipment to take cross-sectional images of your heart to produce 3D and 4-D images. 4-D adds the dimension of time to 3D images, and 4-D CT scans are moving images of your heart. The highly detailed images that we capture help us see and evaluate how the heart valves and chambers are functioning.

3D transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

This ultrasound technology uses high-frequency sound waves to generate moving 3D images of your heart. In the TEE procedure, the ultrasound tool (transducer) is on an endoscope (thin, flexible tube) that the physician guides down the throat into the esophagus (tube connecting the mouth to the stomach).

From this position, we can view your heart from the back, allowing us to better assess the function of the mitral valve (heart valve between the left upper and lower chambers of the heart) and left ventricle (lower left chamber of the heart). 3D TEE is especially useful for planning transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR).

3D printing to plan minimally invasive heart treatment

Once we have the comprehensive 3D images of your heart, we use them to produce an exact replica of your heart anatomy with advanced 3D printing. The next step is our weekly conference, where our entire team meets to discuss each patient.

Our team conference brings together specialists from:

  • Interventional cardiology
  • Heart surgery
  • Cardiac anesthesiology
  • Advanced nursing

Together, they review the 3D imaging and heart models. With all of our experts in one room, we’re able to design a customized treatment plan for each patient. This plan includes the best approach and best valve or device for each patient.

For heart valve replacement, we can walk through the procedure using the model to test different replacement heart valves types and sizes. Because everyone’s anatomy is different, it’s important to make sure that the valve will fit the space without leaking or interfering with other heart structures.

Our use of 3D technology means that your care team knows your heart anatomy inside and out ahead of time. This access to your heart allows us to resolve any potential problems before the procedure takes place. That means you receive:

  • The safest, most effective approach and options
  • A shorter procedure time
  • Almost no risk of complications
  • A quicker recovery time

Henry Ford: conditions and treatments aided by 3D printing

We use 3D imaging and printing to plan many of our minimally invasive, catheter-based heart treatments, including:

Learn more about the conditions we treat, guided by 3D printing, at the Center for Structural Heart Disease:

Structural heart treatment at Henry Ford: what to expect

At Henry Ford, we’re committed to providing the most advanced care available to help you enjoy a better quality of life. With our world-renowned specialists and our team’s focus on your safety and comfort, your experience will be exceptional.

Learn more about what to expect from your first appointment through your follow-up care.

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