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Hopfner, Carina; Jakob, Andre; Tengler, Anja; Grab, Maximilian; Thierfelder, Nikolaus; Brunner, Barbara; Thierij, Alisa and Haas, Nikolaus A. (2021): Design and 3D printing of variant pediatric heart models for training based on a single patient scan. In: 3D Printing in Medicine, Vol. 7, No. 1, 25

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Background 3D printed models of pediatric hearts with congenital heart disease have been proven helpful in simulation training of diagnostic and interventional catheterization. However, anatomically accurate 3D printed models are traditionally based on real scans of clinical patients requiring specific imaging techniques, i.e., CT or MRI. In small children both imaging technologies are rare as minimization of radiation and sedation is key. 3D sonography does not (yet) allow adequate imaging of the entire heart for 3D printing. Therefore, an alternative solution to create variant 3D printed heart models for teaching and hands-on training has been established. Methods In this study different methods utilizing image processing and computer aided design software have been established to overcome this shortage and to allow unlimited variations of 3D heart models based on single patient scans. Patient-specific models based on a CT or MRI image stack were digitally modified to alter the original shape and structure of the heart. Thereby, 3D hearts showing various pathologies were created. Training models were adapted to training level and aims of hands-on workshops, particularly for interventional cardiology. Results By changing the shape and structure of the original anatomy, various training models were created of which four examples are presented in this paper: 1. Design of perimembranous and muscular ventricular septal defect on a heart model with patent ductus arteriosus, 2. Series of heart models with atrial septal defect showing the long-term hemodynamic effect of the congenital heart defect on the right atrial and ventricular wall, 3. Implementation of simplified heart valves and addition of the myocardium to a right heart model with pulmonary valve stenosis, 4. Integration of a constructed 3D model of the aortic valve into a pulsatile left heart model with coarctation of the aorta. All presented models have been successfully utilized and evaluated in teaching or hands-on training courses. Conclusions It has been demonstrated that non-patient-specific anatomical variants can be created by modifying existing patient-specific 3D heart models. This way, a range of pathologies can be modeled based on a single CT or MRI dataset. Benefits of designed 3D models for education and training purposes have been successfully applied in pediatric cardiology but can potentially be transferred to simulation training in other medical fields as well.

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