Learning by Heart: 3D Printing Could Help Save Lives One Day

As a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, Richard Trimlett knows a few things about the heart. He and his colleagues in the UK perform 35,000 heart surgeries every year on average.

Trimlett typically begins an open-heart surgery by stabilizing the heart with a suction device. But a minimally invasive procedure called keyhole heart surgery is even more delicate. “The heart is beating during the surgery, but we need to hold this very small area that we’re working on still,” Trimlett says. “We need tools with very small parts that we can pass in and out.”

Trimlett was looking for a new way of doing this when he ran into Alex Berry, the CEO of Sutrue, a design development center that specializes in developing medical instruments used in cardiology. “I asked Alex if he could make something that comes apart in pieces and passes through a very small incision that we could use to hold the heart stable,” Trimlett says. Ideally, he wanted a tool that was customizable by shape and size and also disposable.

This article originally appeared on Autodesk’s Redshift, a site dedicated to inspiring designers, engineers, builders, and makers. Continue reading the article:

Photo Credit: A 3D-printed device makes the minimally invasive yet delicate keyhole heart surgery process easier for surgeons.