Source: Agencies03 Mar 2016 12:17:56

MELBOURNE, March 03: Australian scientists have used 3D printers to model human arteries in a development which could help prevent deadly heart conditions.

Cardiologists collaborated with the University of Melbourne engineers to develop a method of 3D printing individual arteries, using a camera "thinner than a human hair" which records super high resolution images.

The images are processed by "supercomputers" which map the arteries, and they are then printed in 3D for doctors to analyse.

3D printed arteries by Aussie Scientists


The resulting models give doctors new information about the unique make-up about individual hearts, as each heart has different "twists and branches", and according to Associate Professor Peter Barlis, the development has allowed doctors to fit custom, "made-to-measure heart stents" which best fit each individual patient.

"Using our ultra-sensitive heart scans combined with models derived using supercomputers, we are now able to print out segments of the patient's arteries and we hope to tailor devices to fit them perfectly," said Barlis in a statement on Thursday.

"No two arteries are shaped the same. We're all different, with arteries that have different branches and sizes, tapering from larger to smaller."

"We ideally want to use models to predict the best type of stent for a patient. Once this process is streamlined, we can have a patient on the table and an artery 3D printed and modeled to guide the procedure."

Heart disease is still considered the number one killer in Australia, and the team from the University of Melbourne said the new development could help lower the risk of developing the disease, or suffering from other heart-related conditions.

The eventual aim, according to the University of Melbourne, is to improve the technology so doctors are able to 3D print the artery while the patient is in surgery and, eventually print a custom-fit heart stent which can be placed in the patient "on the spot".