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Medical 3D printing at Tampa General Hospital and USF Health Morsani College of Medicine provides clearer map for surgery

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | May 23, 2022 3D Printing Operating Room
TAMPA, Fla., May 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- How do you mend a broken heart? With plastic. That's a goal at Tampa General Hospital, where a sophisticated 3D printing program is making replicas of human organs from layers of artificial materials. Teaming up with the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine's Department of Radiology, Tampa General has used 3D printing for planning aortic valve replacements, trauma surgery, cancer surgery and other reconstructions, as well as creating replicas of major organs. The replicas are used by surgeons to improve planning for surgery with the goal of a better surgical experience and outcomes for the patient.

"We're able to translate medical imaging data into 3D models and these can be used in clinical decision-making, medical simulation and training, as well as patient education,'' said Summer Decker, PhD, associate professor and director of 3D Clinical Applications for the Department of Radiology at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

This potentially revolutionary technique uses 3D-printed facsimiles to better understand treatment and even reduce risk in invasive and complex surgeries. It allows for an appraisal of an organ outside the body, which saves time in the operating room and reduces costs. "Because of this 3D technology, we can take an 11-hour surgery down to a three-hour surgery,'' Decker added. "So, it makes for safer and more efficient procedures.''

The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Tampa General are the first in the Tampa Bay area and among the first in the country to utilize this innovative technology. Although this collaborative 3D printing program started as research years ago, it has advanced to become a valued medical asset today. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, asked the USF Health 3D lab team to develop a solution for the international supply shortage for the nasal swabs needed for COVID-19 testing. Working in collaboration with USF's Division of Infectious Disease and Tampa General's Global Emerging Diseases Institute, the team designed and developed a 3D-printed alternative nasopharyngeal swab for COVID testing. Validating the accuracy of the swab took place in several health care facilities across the U.S., including Tampa General Hospital. To date, the USF patent-pending design has produced more than 75 million swabs in over 50 countries.

A swab is one thing; a heart is another. The artificial version gives physicians and patients a better understanding of the problem at hand. So, if a patient has a bad heart, doctors can scan it, print it, and collaborate on a strategy based on the printed model. Just as important, they can put it in the patient's hands. "It gives our patients and doctors a better understanding of the problem and how best to treat it," said Dr. Krishna Nallamshetty, chair of the Department of Radiology and associate professor of Radiology and Cardiology at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and chief of staff at Tampa General Hospital.

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