ECMO implantation training: Needle penetration in 3D printable materials and porcine aorta

Perfusion. 2020 Nov 11;267659120967194. doi: 10.1177/0267659120967194. Online ahead of print.


Aim: Patients with cardiogenic shock or ARDS, for example, in COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2, may require extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). An ECLS/ECMO model simulating challenging vascular anatomy is desirable for cannula insertion training purposes. We assessed the ability of various 3D-printable materials to mimic the penetration properties of human tissue by using porcine aortae.

Methods: A test bench for needle penetration and piercing in sampled porcine aorta and preselected 3D-printable polymers was assembled. The 3D-printable materials had Shore A hardness of 10, 20, and 50. 17G Vygon 1.0 × 1.4 mm × 70 mm needles were used for penetration tests.

Results: For the porcine tissue and Shore A 10, Shore A 20, and Shore A 50 polymers, penetration forces of 0.9036 N, 0.9725 N, 1.0386 N, and 1.254 N were needed, respectively. For piercing through the porcine tissue and Shore A 10, Shore A 20, and Shore A 50 polymers, forces of 0.8399 N, 1.244 N, 1.475 N, and 1.482 N were needed, respectively. ANOVA showed different variances among the groups, and pairwise two-tailed t-tests showed significantly different needle penetration and piercing forces, except for penetration of Shore A 10 and 20 polymers (p = 0.234 and p = 0.0857). Significantly higher forces were required for all other materials.

Conclusion: Shore A 10 and 20 polymers have similar needle penetration properties compared to the porcine tissue. Significantly more force is needed to pierce through the material fully. The most similar tested material to porcine aorta for needle penetration and piercing in ECMO-implantation is the silicon Shore A 10 polymer. This silicon could be a 3D-printable material in surgical training for ECMO-implantation.

Keywords: 3D printing; COVID-19; ECLS; ECMO; SARS-CoV-2; ZwickRoell; extracorporeal life support; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; medical education; needle penetration.