News, NHS trust

Leeds Teaching Hospitals introduces 3D heart replicas to support surgical interventions

A biomedical engineer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) has created 3D heart replicas with the aim to support surgical interventions for patients with congenital heart defects.

Scans are taken of a patient’s heart and turned into a 3D replica using computer-aided design; these designs can then be studied on the computer screen, or in augmented 3D using a VR headset. Clinicians can also request a 3D-printed model, or a model which “features a simulated intervention, such as a stent or a synthetic conduit”, meaning they can better visualise and test surgical approaches prior to making a decision on the best intervention.

It is hoped that the 3D heart replicas can help balance the risks and benefits of possible interventions, as well as offering the chance for less invasive options to be considered, with potential outcomes including “fewer days spent in hospital, significantly quicker recovery times, and reduced risks compared to open heart procedures”.

Overseeing the approach is Lisa Ferrie, biomedical engineer and 3D planning service lead at LTHT. Lisa commented: “3D modelling provides a detailed level of visualisation that a CT or MRI scan simply can’t provide alone, and leads to safer procedures more suitable to the patient’s individual needs. It’s a relatively new field, but the potential of this work to improve patient outcomes is huge. More and more you are seeing biomedical engineers or other technical specialists brought in-house to start similar services elsewhere in the NHS.”

Dr Vitor Ramos, consultant in adult congenital heart disease and cardiac MR at LTHT, added: “The 3D designs have a tremendous effect on the way we treat our patients as it provides us with a far better understanding of their anatomies, allowing us to shorten procedures and reduce complications, where appropriate. It also gives us the means us to perform ‘virtual’ surgery beforehand and predict the results of several interventions without putting patients at risk.”

Earlier this year, we looked at the use of 3D printing in helping visually impaired children to communicate at The James Cook University Hospital and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Also from Leeds, in August we reported that Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is looking to engage the market across seven thematic areas – clinical communications, virtual care, operations, SMART buildings, inpatient central monitoring, patient flow and network infrastructure – with a view to suppliers of digital solutions in these areas exploring the prospect of membership to the trust’s Innovation Pop-Up.