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Heart condition treatments transform due to 3D printers

Posting in Healthcare
3D printing is changing healthcare--from making prosthetic devices cheaper to enabling a more efficient way to study bacterial communities. Now doctors are exploring what it can do for our hearts. 

A team of doctors, led by Igor Efimov, PhD, at the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, have used a 3D printer to create a device which could revolutionize the way we treat and monitor cardiac conditions.

The team have printed a membrane made of elastic silicon material which can be customized to fit the exact shape of a human heart. This material is then embedded with tiny sensors which can be used to monitor a number of important heart health data points -- including temperature and strain. The device is also able to send out small electrical pulses to correct arrythmias.

Efimov commented:

"Each heart is a different shape, and current devices are one-size-fits-all and don’t at all conform to the geometry of a patient’s heart. With this application, we image the patient’s heart through MRI or CT scan, then computationally extract the image to build a 3D model that we can print on a 3D printer."

The membrane can not only be used to monitor chronic conditions, but could also treat heart diseases and artrial fibrillation.

The team's research has been published in Nature Communication.

Read on: 3D Print

Image credit: Flickr

— By on February 26, 2014, 1:26 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure