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3D Printing Changes the Life of 5-Year-Old Girl with Heart Condition

Miami's Nicklaus Children's Hospital used a 3D printed, life-like anatomical heart model to study the complexity and set the strategy for repairing Mia Gonzalez' heart. The technology is now found across a broad range of markets, including metalworking.

Stratasys Ltd., a 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions company, played a key role in the medical success story of 5-year-old Mia Gonzalez.

Five-year-old Mia Gonzalez suffered from a rare heart malformation called double aortic arch. A Stratasys 3D printed model of her heart was used to perform a successful operation.



The girl suffered from a rare heart malformation called double aortic arch, a condition in which a vascular ring wraps around either the trachea or esophagus, restricting airflow. The life-threatening condition could only be repaired through an intricate operation. A 3D printed model of Mia's heart enhanced the planning phase so the surgical team could optimally visualize Mia's specific heart structure.

"With a 3D printed model, we were able to figure out which part of her arch should be divided to achieve the best physiological result," says Dr. Redmond Burke, Director, Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery, Nicklaus Children's Hospital.

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.



"The challenge is a surgical one, how do you divide this double aortic arch and save her life without hurting her," added Dr. Burke. "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. 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.'"

Often misdiagnosed as asthma, Mia's symptoms included labored breathing and choking. Once the condition was diagnosed using a CT scan at Nicklaus Children's, Mia's family was told she would need surgery to repair the arches in her heart.

A 3D Printed Heart Model

As a rule, surgeons prefer to develop a plan before entering complex operations. Unfortunately, no two people are alike -- with each organ differing from those in textbooks. To improve patient outcomes, surgeons at Nicklaus Children's Hospital have begun to leverage advanced tools, including Stratasys 3D Printers -- charting a course using life-like 3D printed organs.

Surgical team from Nicklaus Children's Hospital determines the best course of action by visualizing the surgical solution on the model.



"Once patient scan data from MR or CT imaging 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.

After 3D printing and examining Mia's heart model, Dr. Burke determined the best course of action by scrutinizing and visualizing the surgical solution on the model. The heart model supported doctors in performing an extremely successful surgery.

The Stratasys 3D printed heart model supported doctors in performing an extremely successful surgery.



Mia recovered quickly and is finally living the life of a happy and healthy child. "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 3D Printing Solution

Medical models can be created to simulate the same flexibility of human organs, allowing surgeons to accurately practice procedures. The 3D printer offers a wide range of material properties, enabling anatomical models to accurately replicate organs, flesh or mimic the rigidity of bone.

Stratasys Ltd. empowers customers across a broad range of vertical markets, including metalworking, by enabling new paradigms for design and manufacturing. The company's solutions provide customers with unmatched design freedom and manufacturing flexibility -- reducing time-to-market and lowering development costs, while improving designs and communications.

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