In vivo implantation of 3-dimensional printed customized branched tissue engineered vascular graft in a porcine model

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2020 May;159(5):1971-1981.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2019.09.138. Epub 2019 Oct 9.


Background: The customized vascular graft offers the potential to simplify the surgical procedure, optimize physiological function, and reduce morbidity and mortality. This experiment evaluated the feasibility of a flow dynamic-optimized branched tissue engineered vascular graft (TEVG) customized based on medical imaging and manufactured by 3-dimensional (3D) printing for a porcine model.

Methods: We acquired magnetic resonance angiography and 4-dimensional flow data for the native anatomy of the pigs (n = 2) to design a custom-made branched vascular graft of the pulmonary bifurcation. An optimal shape of the branched vascular graft was designed using a computer-aided design system informed by computational flow dynamics analysis. We manufactured and implanted the graft for pulmonary artery (PA) reconstruction in the porcine model. The graft was explanted at 4 weeks after implantation for further evaluation.

Results: The custom-made branched PA graft had a wall shear stress and pressure drop (PD) from the main PA to the branch PA comparable to the native vessel. At the end point, magnetic resonance imaging revealed comparable left/right pulmonary blood flow balance. PD from main PA to branch between before and after the graft implantation was unchanged. Immunohistochemistry showed evidence of endothelization and smooth muscle layer formation without calcification of the graft.

Conclusions: Our animal model demonstrates the feasibility of designing and implanting image-guided, 3D-printed, customized grafts. These grafts can be designed to optimize both anatomic fit and hemodynamic properties. This study demonstrates the tremendous potential structural and physiological advantages of customized TEVGs in cardiac surgery.

Keywords: 3D printing graft; CFD optimization; customized branched TEVG; in vivo implantation of TEVG; neotissue formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis Implantation / instrumentation*
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis*
  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional*
  • Pulmonary Artery / surgery
  • Swine
  • Tissue Engineering / instrumentation*