Two Irish hospitals plan to start using three-dimensional printers at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in the coming months to create copies of patients’ hearts to help with surgery for heart disease in adults and congenital heart defects in babies.
Cardiologists at University Hospital Galway have linked up with the Galway Medical Technology Centre (GMedTech ), a research centre at GMIT that works with companies to develop new medical devices and training aids for clinicians. Next year they will use the centre’s 3-D printers to generate exact heart replicas of the hospital’s heart patients.
The copies will focus on the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. When plaque builds up and hardens, it narrows the arteries and restricts or blocks blood flow, which can lead to a heart attack.
Galway’s University Hospital, and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Dublin, plan to start using three-dimensional printers at GMIT to create copies of patients’ hearts to help with surgery for heart defects in adults and babies.
Machines that print objects layer by layer using materials instead of ink have already been used to produce prototypes for the automobile and aerospace industries.
3-D printers are revolutionising medicine and have already been deployed to make hearing aids, vertebrae, hip implants and even a human ear with living cells.
Helen O’Grady of the GMed Tech research centre at GMIT says that medical professionals tell her that no matter how good a 3-D model is on screen, nothing can replace having the model in the person’s hand.
Now this new system can allow surgeons to have an accurate model of each patient’s heart in their hands to rehearse the operation in advance of carrying it out.
The GMedTech centre has a recognised unique capacity for designing and developing advanced pre-clinically relevant in vitro simulators replicating various parts of the human anatomy.
These pre-clinical in vitro simulators can prove the feasibility and accelerate the development of the next generation of medical devices and training platform for clinicians. These systems have also the potential to assist surgical planning.
GMedTech provides to the medical technologies sector clinically relevant, world class simulation capabilities that reduce the burden associated with later stage clinical investigations.
The GMedTech Centre within the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology has become a key player both nationally and internationally in providing state of the art pre-clinical in vitro expertise to the medical device industry.
Its research team delivers a viable and beneficial resource to the pre-clinical trials market in Ireland.