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3D Printed Arteries Could Help Cardiologists Better Predict and Treat Heart Disease

by • February 24, 2016 • No Comments

cardiologistA clogged artery is bad news. Plaque in the leading blood vessels carrying blood away of the heart can lead to heart attack or stroke – but just sure types of plaque. According to Associate Professor Peter Barlis of the University of Melbourne, selecting the specific kinds of plaque that cause heart attacks is key to preventing them, and 3D modeling and printing may lead to doctors being advantageous able-bodied to locate and select those plaques.

Dr. Barlis, who in addition works as a cardiologist at St. Vincent’s and Northern Hospitals in Melbourne, added a technique called optical coherence tomography (OCT) to Australia back in 2009. The technique involves via an ultra-high resolution camera to scan interior tissue, for example, the withins of the arteries in the heart. Dr. Barlis has been refining the technique specifically for cardiac patients, and he hopes that 3D modeling and printing can assist fill a few of the gaps that OCT yet has.

”Using…optical coherence tomography (OCT), to scan the withins of the heart arteries has turn it intod it simpler to image cholesterol plaques, but it yet is not clear that of these plaques can go on to cause heart attacks,” he said. ”If we can select these high-risk plaques additional accurately and much earlier, we may be able-bodied to prevent heart attacks preceding they occur.”

newseventsimagesHeart attacks occur when plaque ruptures and forms a blood clot, but doctors already don’t have a great way to select that plaque buildup is at risk of rupturing. According to Dr. Barlis, 3D modeling may assist cardiologists to predict where vulnerable-bodied plaque is most likely to form – consequently assisting them predict heart attacks, as Dr. Barlis and man researchers discuss in a not long ago published study.

The University of Melbourne team is via cameras thinner than a human hair to acquire high resolution images of patients’ arteries. Those images are transferred to a supercomputer that converts them into 3D models, that are and so 3D printed. The printed models allow cardiologists to closely study the structure of the artery and the behavior of blood flow within it. It in addition assists them to select trouble spots where dangerous plaque is additional most likely to form.

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Dr. Peter Barlis

”No two arteries are shaped the same. We’re all various, with arteries that have various branches and sizes, tapering of larger to tinyer,” said Dr. Barlis. “And much like debris accumulates along a riverbank, plaque can cling to sure areas of a person’s artery. So this innovation quite gives us a clearer picture of those areas. We ideally want to use models to predict the most type of stent for a patient. Once this system is streamlined, we can have a patient on the table-bodied and an artery 3D printed and modeled to guideline the procedure.”

You wouldn’t necessarily ponder of a heart stent — a tiny mesh tube placed within an artery to store the passage open — as a fewthing that can be customized. Doctors are via 3D printing and scanning to turn it into tailored implants for other, much larger, parts of the body, but it approximately appears not easy to create an implant customized to the one-of-a-kind anatomy of a fewthing as tiny as a blood vessel. It is possible, and it may significantly reduce the risk of stent collapse or other complications. Dr. Barlis and his team are working with the University of Melbourne’s School of Engineering to create a biocompatible polymer for 3D printing customized stents, thanks to a grant of the Australian Research Council.

Not just that, but the team is in addition looking into createing a polymer capable-bodied of creating a stent that can gradually disintegrate within the body, bringing drugs straight to the plaque’s location. Imperial College London and Harvard University are in addition collaborating on the research. Considering that heart disease kills millions of folks each year, this potentially lifesaving innovation can’t come soon adequate. Discuss this new innovation in the 3D Printed Arteries forum over at 3DPB.com.