In cases of heart valve replacements, surgeons have different sizes and options to choose from, each prosthetic device having its unique qualities and limitations. Predicting the best replacement heart valve for patient’s specific morphology may soon be easier to figure out thanks to the use of 3D printing. Researchers at Georgia Tech are printing models of patient valve anatomy on which to test and practice the placement of man-made valves.
This is particularly relevant as transcatheter valves are becoming more common while placement of new valves that avoid leakage is still a challenge.
The researchers used tomography scans of actual patients to then generate 3D prints out of a material that has many similar physical properties to vascular tissue. The researchers placed new valves within these structures, which were the same valves as placed in real patients, and tested the leakages. The investigators compared these numbers to the results in actual patients and confirmed that their models are very predictive of actual leakage in clinical patients.
“Previous methods of using 3-D printers and a single material to create human organ models were limited to the physiological properties of the material used,” said Chuck Zhang, professor at Georgia Tech. “Our method of creating these models using metamaterial design and multi-material 3-D printing takes into account the mechanical behavior of the heart valves, mimicking the natural strain-stiffening behavior of soft tissues that comes from the interaction between elastin and collagen, two proteins found in heart valves.”
Here’s a Georgia Tech video with the researchers showing off their technology:
Via: Georgia Tech…