UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science


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3D patient-specific models of congenital heart diseases

"I’m still looking at the chalk heart in absolute amazement and am guarding it like a Doberman! [...] It really does help knowing and understanding what is planned."
(Mother of A.D., Cardiorespiratory Unit, Great Ormond Street Hospital)

On-going research at the Centre for Cardiovascular Imaging (UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science) and at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London is looking into the potential of using 3-dimensional patient-specific models of congenital heart diseases in clinical practice. These models are produced with a technique known as "rapid prototyping" (3D printing), whereby an object is manufactured layer by layer. The input for this printing process is gathered from medical imaging data, typically magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography. During a clinical consultation, such a 3D model can help parents and patients to gain a better understanding of the complex anatomy of congenital heart defects, i.e. "where things are" before and/or after repair, as well as better identifying and describing the problem that has been corrected or needs to be addressed. In this way, parents and children are more and more engaged in the research activity, as we believe that patients and public involvement (PPI) will, in turn, lead to better research design.