Impact of Three-Dimensional Printing on the Study and Treatment of Congenital Heart Disease
Three-dimensional (3D) printing technology allows for the translation of a 2-dimensional medical imaging study into a physical replica of a patient’s individual anatomy. 3D printed models can facilitate a deeper understanding of complex patient anatomy and can aid in presurgical decision-making.1 Although there are 3D printing case reports in almost every subspecialty of medicine to date, the rate of adoption in the field of congenital heart disease (CHD) is particularly advanced.2,3 This is due, in no small part, to the fact that the heart is a hollow organ, which makes it a perfect substrate for 3D printing. More importantly, medical decision-making in CHD is informed by assessment of the anatomic morphology of the heart because cardiac pathology is a direct manifestation of the underlying 3D structure.
Reports on the application of 3D printing in the study and treatment of CHD are accumulating rapidly; these studies cover uses, including advanced visualization, surgical planning, and education.4 Individual case reports and small studies indicate the potential to improve patient outcomes using patient-specific 3D models. There is a growing body of literature that demonstrates the value of 3D models in decision-making,5 procedural planning,5–7 and postoperative care simulation.8,9 Two specific cases are illustrated for the reader’s interest in Figures 1 and 2.