Three-dimensional virtual and printed prototypes in complex congenital and pediatric cardiac surgery—a multidisciplinary team-learning experience

Laszlo Kiraly, Nishant C. Shah, Osama Abdullah, Oraib Al-Ketan, Reza Rowshan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three-dimensional (3D) virtual modeling and printing advances individualized medicine and surgery. In congenital cardiac surgery, 3D virtual models and printed prototypes offer advantages of better understanding of complex anatomy, hands-on preoperative surgical planning and emulation, and improved communication within the multidisciplinary team and to patients. We report our single center team-learning experience about the realization and validation of possible clinical benefits of 3D-printed models in surgical planning of complex congenital cardiac surgery. CT-angiography raw data were segmented into 3D-virtual models of the heart-great vessels. Prototypes were 3D-printed as rigid “blood-volume” and flexible “hollow”. The accuracy of the models was evaluated intraoperatively. Production steps were realized in the framework of a clinical/research partnership. We produced 3D prototypes of the heart-great vessels for 15 case scenarios (nine males, median age: 11 months) undergoing complex intracardiac repairs. Parity between 3D models and intraoperative structures was within 1 mm range. Models refined diagnostics in 13/15, provided new anatomic information in 9/15. As a team-learning experience, all complex staged redo-operations (13/15; Aristotle-score mean: 10.64 ± 1.95) were rehearsed on the 3D models preoperatively. 3D-printed prototypes significantly contributed to an improved/alternative operative plan on the surgical approach, modification of intracardiac repair in 13/15. No operative morbidity/mortality occurred. Our clinical/research partnership provided coverage for the extra time/labor and material/machinery not financed by insurance. 3D-printed models provided a team-learning experience and contributed to the safety of complex congenital cardiac surgeries. A clinical/research partnership may open avenues for bioprinting of patient-specific implants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1703
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Congenital heart disease
  • Congenital heart surgery
  • Hands-on surgical training
  • Surgical simulation
  • Surgical training
  • Three-dimensional printing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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