Univ. of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital doctors repair heart using VR and 3D printing

IOWA CITY (KCRG) – Open heart surgery is often accompanied by days of hospitalization and weeks of rehabilitation. A first-of its-kind procedure performed in Iowa saved a woman from a long recovery.

When 67-year-old Maria Andrade was first diagnosed with a congenital heart defect she was referred to Dr. Osamah Aldoss, a Pediatric Cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart disease at Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

”When we saw her, she was clearly in heart failure symptoms. She was short of breath and not being able to do what she typically does,” said Dr. Aldoss.

Scans confirmed Maria’s heart had a large hole, and a vein connected to the wrong chamber.

However, because Maria had a history of other medical issues, surgery wasn’t a good option.

”There was a good chance if we, you know, insisted on doing surgeries that she might not do well,” said Dr. Aldoss.

They then looked into 3-D Printing and Virtual Reality as a less intrusive way to repair the hole.

”Using special software we can construct 3D models virtually and also we can actually print 3D models,” said Dr. Ravi Ashwath, director of non-invasive imagery.

With an exact model of Maria’s heart, they were able to practice the non-invasive procedure before they performed it on Maria.

”For them, it’s like a deja vu because they did the procedure on this and they’re doing it on now. They thought we had done this before. So on the day of the procedure, the chances that you are taking are almost none,” said Dr. Ashwath.

Maria was allowed to return home the following day after doctors accessed her heart through a catheter and repaired it.

The team working on Maria’s heart also had some help along the way.

They worked with doctors from the UK who have performed this procedure before.

”This was a team that had done more of these procedures than anybody else, so we wanted to get their opinion. So when we get it, we do the best,” said Dr. Ashwath.

This was the first procedure performed in Iowa by Dr. Ravi Ashwath.

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”We’re not happy just because we accomplished this, we’re happy because we can show to the country and the world that in Iowa we can deliver great things just like anywhere else and keep the people here,” he said.