A Life-Giving Plan. 3D Printed Heart Model Helps Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital Plan Complex Surgeries

It Takes a Team of Specialists to Heal an Infant’s Broken Heart.

3D printing is transforming surgical planning and enabling the delivery of personalized medicine to infants with complex congenital heart disease (CHD).  Five years ago, the cardiovascular team at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, a pediatric medical center in St. Louis, Missouri, embraced 3D printing as a solution for better surgical planning for these patients.

While congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects worldwide according to the American Heart Association, affecting eight out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States, fortunately, only one in four requires surgery during the first year of life. As a pediatric referral center, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital sees some of the most complex patients, requiring repair within days or weeks of birth on hearts the size of a walnut. One such patient was an infant diagnosed in utero via fetal ultrasound with an unusual form of transposition of the great arteries.


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3D printed model of the heart

3D model of the heart of a 5-day-old infant with congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries with a large ventricular septal defect and severe subaortic stenosis. (AO – aorta, ASD – atrial septal defect, RA – right atrium, LV – left ventricle, MV – mitral valve,VSD – ventricular septal defect).

“The 3D model was instrumental in determining the optimal surgical approach.  It allowed us to go into the case with a solid plan based on the best information we could obtain.”

Charles Huddleston, M.D.
Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Pediatrics
SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital