3D printed heart models help KKH with planning complex surgeries in children

KKH's Cardiology Service Consultant Dr Chen Ching Kit (left) and Cardiothoracic  Surgery Service Consultant Dr Nakao Masakazu holding 3D printed heart models.
KKH's Cardiology Service Consultant Dr Chen Ching Kit (left) and Cardiothoracic Surgery Service Consultant Dr Nakao Masakazu holding 3D printed heart models. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Heart surgeries on children can be complicated but the use of 3D printed heart models at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) is expected to help doctors with planning such procedures.

The hospital started using 3D prints of children's hearts to improve pre-surgical planning for complex congenital heart conditions about a year ago, it said at a media briefing on Tuesday (Sept 6).

This is a departure from the norm as the diagnosis and management of structural and congenital heart disease have historically been driven largely by 2D imaging methods.

But with advancements in 3D printing technology, models of 3D printed hearts have enabled doctors to be more efficient and precise in pre-surgical planning, particularly for cases with complex anatomies.

Out of the 200 congenital heart surgeries performed a year at KKH, 1 to 2 per cent of these are rare cases and they would benefit from 3D printing technology, said KKH doctors.


A 3D printed model of a 9-year-old girl's heart. She was suffering from a complex congenital heart condition. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

One successful surgery involving a 3D printed heart was performed in January this year. The patient was a nine-year-old girl who had a complex congenital heart condition.