With all the hubbub around 3D printing in the media lately, it’s easy to begin overlooking the huge scientific achievement and beneficial potential that it holds. 5-year old, Mia Gonzalez suffered from a congenital heart defect that made it difficult for her to breathe. Frequently misdiagnosed as asthmatic, Mia had a heart condition in which a vascular ring wrapped around her trachea, obstructing airflow.
Mia’s defected vascular ring was an extremely infrequent case, leading to her multiple misdiagnoses. Dr. Redmond Burke of Miami’s Nicklaus Children’s Hospital explains the complexity of operating on a case like Mia’s as being the “rarest of a rare condition.” A procedure that usually requires operation on the left side of patients would actually necessitate Dr. Burke to examine and operate on Mia through her right side.
Such a complicated operation requires acute attention to detail and knowledge of Mia’s heart and subsequent vascular rings as they existed. Dr. Burke and the hospital used a 3D model of Mia’s heart to properly examine the exact ring that needed to be incised and to develop a set path that which the procedure would follow. With the 3D model of Mia’s heart, Burke was able to walk his medical team through the ins and outs of the medical proceedings–ensuring that the operation would be performed in a safe, efficient, and ultimately effective manner.
After a seamless 2-hour surgery, Mia is recovering well. Dr. Burke says that the 3D model allowed him to essentially hold Mia’s heart in his hands, helping him to comprehend the complexity of the problem and operate in a way that would ensure her healthy rehabilitation.
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