3D Printed Heart Model Helps Change Grim Prognosis for 5-Year-Old Mia Gonzalez

Five-year-old Mia Gonzalez has always suffered from breathing issues which limited her ability to function as a normal child. Doctors discovered a rare heart malformation known as double aortic arch. The condition causes restricted airflow due to the entanglement of an extra vascular ring around either the trachea or the esophagus. Often misdiagnosed as asthma, this serious condition requires a complex surgical procedure.

Dr. Redmond Burke, Director of Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, and his team were faced with a difficult challenge: How could the surgical team separate the double aortic arch without causing additional harm to Mia? The solution was 3D printing.

“By making a 3D model of her very complex aortic arch vessels, we were able to further visualize which part of her arch should be divided to achieve the best physiological result,” said Dr. Burke. “It’s very powerful when you show a family ‘this is your baby’s heart and this is how I’m going to repair it.”

A happy and healthy five-year-old Mia holds a 3D printed replica of her heart 3D printed by Stratasys, which accurately shows the heart malformation that once caused debilitating symptoms.
A happy and healthy five-year-old Mia holds a 3D printed replica of her heart 3D printed by Stratasys, which accurately shows the heart malformation that once caused debilitating symptoms.

All too often, surgeons must rely on 2D scans or generic models to develop personalized practices for patient surgeries. As with fingerprints, no two organs are alike. This poses a significant challenge for surgeons who aim to provide the utmost professional and personalized care. Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s patient-centric focus is driven by today’s latest innovations, which include Stratasys 3D Printers to develop accurate 3D printed organ models.

“Once MRI scan data is fed into the Stratasys 3D Printer, doctors can create a model with all its intricacies, specific features and fine detail. This significantly enhances surgical preparedness, reduces complications and decreases operating time,” said Scott Rader, GM of Medical Solutions at Stratasys.

Stratasys reseller, AdvancedRP, provided Dr. Burke and his team with the 3D printed models of Mia’s heart using the Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 Multi-Material 3D Printer.

Dr. Burke thoroughly examined the precise heart models to assess complications and develop the best possible surgical plan needed to save Mia’s life.

Mia's 3D printed heart model was created with a Stratasys 3D Printer, enhancing surgical preparedness, reducing complications, and decreasing operating time for the surgical team. Photo: Stratasys
Mia’s 3D printed heart model was created with a Stratasys 3D Printer, enhancing surgical preparedness, reducing complications, and decreasing operating time for the surgical team. Photo: Stratasys

As a result of careful planning, Mia made a full and speedy recovery. She now enjoys a happy and healthy lifestyle filled with her favorite activities, including dancing and baseball. “Going from four-and-a-half years of not knowing to being back to normal in less than two months: that’s been a great experience for us,” said Mia’s mother, Katherine Gonzalez.

The success of Mia’s surgery, along with other cases, has resulted in the hospital’s purchase and installment of a Stratasys 3D Printer. As Stratasys continues to empower customers like Nicklaus Children’s Hospital with the latest advancements in 3D printing technology, these tools are defining the guiding principles for practicing personalized care and improved patient outcomes.

To see how Stratasys 3D printing is shaping young lives, watch this video case study.

This post is also available in: French, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil)

Comments (1)

  • Mike Gaisford
    Oct 8, 2015 10:00 AM

    The team at Nicklaus is really impressive. Their investment in 3D printing as a technology that can change and saves lives is a great example of adopting a new technology ahead of the curve and leading the way.

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