3D Modeling and Printing in Congenital Heart Surgery: Entering the Stage of Maturation

Front Pediatr. 2021 Feb 5;9:621672. doi: 10.3389/fped.2021.621672. eCollection 2021.


3D printing allows the most realistic perception of the surgical anatomy of congenital heart diseases without the requirement of physical devices such as a computer screen or virtual headset. It is useful for surgical decision making and simulation, hands-on surgical training (HOST) and cardiovascular morphology teaching. 3D-printed models allow easy understanding of surgical morphology and preoperative surgical simulation. The most common indications for its clinical use include complex forms of double outlet right ventricle and transposition of the great arteries, anomalous systemic and pulmonary venous connections, and heterotaxy. Its utility in congenital heart surgery is indisputable, although it is hard to "scientifically" prove the impact of its use in surgery because of many confounding factors that contribute to the surgical outcome. 3D-printed models are valuable resources for morphology teaching. Educational models can be produced for almost all different variations of congenital heart diseases, and replicated in any number. HOST using 3D-printed models enables efficient education of surgeons in-training. Implementation of the HOST courses in congenital heart surgical training programs is not an option but an absolute necessity. In conclusion, 3D printing is entering the stage of maturation in its use for congenital heart surgery. It is now time for imagers and surgeons to find how to effectively utilize 3D printing and how to improve the quality of the products for improved patient outcomes and impact of education and training.

Keywords: 3D modeling; 3D printing; congenital heart surgery; education; hands-on surgical training; surgical simulation.

Publication types

  • Review