3D-Printed Hearts Beating For Future Solutions
With the advent of 3D printing, human imagination has led to innovative uses for the technology, and scholars from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have figured out another that will get your pulse racing: 3D-printed hearts!
Much like any body part, each heart is one-of-a-kind with regards to size and shape, varying from human to human. Perfectly normal, but unfortunately there are those who happen to be born with abnormally shaped hearts, hampered by a disease or a congenital defect that impacts its ability to pump blood.
This is where science steps in – the mechanical engineering department at MIT has produced a method that can print a custom-made heart fitted with light robotic parts, which can mimic the recipient’s natural functions.
After scanning the patient’s heart and mapping a three-dimensional model, Professor Ellen Roche’s team can then replicate the malfunctioning part, or the entire organ, within a day. This procedure allows surgeons to improve specific functions and enhance patient medical care, while also cutting down the need for multiple surgeries.
“[Hearts have] massive variations, especially when patients are sick. The advantage of our system is that we can recreate not just the form of a patient’s heart, but also its function in both physiology and disease,” says Dr Luca Rosalia, a graduate student in the MIT-Harvard Program in Health Sciences and Technology.
There is a growing excitement for the technology as it opens up a chest of wonders, or, as Professor Roche puts it: “We’re not only printing the heart’s anatomy, but also replicating its mechanics and physiology. That’s the part we get excited about.”
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