Utility of 3 Dimensional (3D) printing of hearts with complex congenital heart disease (CCHD) in the education of pediatric trainees and sonographers

Deepa Prasad
22
Dec

Utility of 3 Dimensional (3D) printing of hearts with complex congenital heart disease (CCHD) in the education of pediatric trainees and sonographers

Background: Visualization of the CCHD in 3-D, based on the two dimensional (2-D) data obtained by echocardiograms and computed tomography (CT)/magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a daunting task. However, the interventions have to be based on and carried out in a 3-D environment. This disconnect between the 2-D imaging and interventions in the 3-D space poses a challenge to communicate effectively to the novice trainees and sonographers. With recent technological advancements in cardiac CT and MRI, it is possible to obtain excellent reconstruction of 3-D images of the heart and furthermore obtain printed 3-D model of the heart. This can add value and improve understanding of complex heart defects especially of the CCHD. There is no data at present regarding its utility in using it as an educational tool. We aim to assess if 3-D printing of the heart would lead to improved understanding of CCHD by trainees and sonographers. Methods: Pediatric residents, cardiology fellows and sonographers were recruited in a random fashion and provided with a pretest questionnaire to assess their baseline understanding of normal and abnormal cardiac anatomy. Echocardiogram, CT and MRI data were shown to the trainees initially prior to completion of pretest questionnaire. The trainees were then provided with the 3D heart models to view and study the anatomy, after which a post test questionnaire is given to them. Data were analyzed to assess the improvement in understanding of CCHD, based on a scoring system. Preliminary results: A total of 10 subjects (5 pediatric residents, 2 sonographers and 2 cardiology fellows) were included in the pilot study. 80% of the residents, 100% of the sonographers and fellows felt that their understanding of CCHD congenital heart disease improved with 3D heart models and 100% of the study subjects felt that 3D models should be absolutely utilized in the education of trainees and caregivers of the CCHD patients. Conclusion: 3D heart models can prove to be effective educational tool for trainees and care givers of the CCHD patients to improve the understanding of normal and abnormal cardiac anatomy.