3D Bioprinting and Valve Replacement
Every year, thousands of patients are diagnosed with heart valve disease, with many needing life-saving surgery to treat the condition. According to recent news, scientists at the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute are working on refining Dr. Jonthan Butcher's 3D printed heart valve. The creation will mimic the size and all physical qualities of a real human heart valve.
Using highly detailed CT scan imaging, the bioprinted heart valve was designed to treat aortic stenosis, a heart condition in which the left heart valves are narrow. This restricts proper blood flow to the heart and can potentially lead to heart failure. A number of studies have proven that this prevalent heart condition is common among elderly groups.
3D printing has been playing a big role in the world of medicine for years. With the biological printing, patients now can benefit from prosthetics very similar to living tissues. The creation of 3D heart valves has provided new hope for patients suffering from aortic stenosis.
The valve models allow the doctors to examine the innermost working of the heart without making an incision. As such, doctors will find it easy to determine a candidate’s suitability for high-risk procedures and optimal placement of the valves. In this case, adjustments that ensure the valves are a proper fit can also be made before the actual surgery. Even though 3D printed coronary facsimiles have helped hundreds of patients, the valve will be even better because it has the ability to grow with the patient, a capability that other prosthetics do not have.
Researchers state that the 3D heart valve will be made of silicon-like materials and will possess properties that are similar to tissues and other structures in the heart. However, there are parts of the valve that will be made from harder materials to simulate calcium deposits. Softer material can also be used to represent vascular tissue.
Richard Whitaker, a 66-year-old man, was one of the first patients to experience the 3D bioprinted heart valve. Whitaker had been suffering from congestive heart failure when a 3D heart valve model was created using a CT scan of his chest. A successful operation was performed on the patient, and after a few months, his recovery was a clear message to the medical community that 3D bioprinting is saving lives.
With this new emergence in medicine, 3D bioprinting will gain even more popularity, and the technology is likely to farther develop in the nearest future.