Doctors at an obstetrics clinic in Krakow have printed an enlarged 3D model of a fetal heart in order to improve education and diagnosing of defects in the womb.
Detection of even common congenital abnormalities is difficult during standard ultrasound examination due to the fact that a fetus' movements can obscure view of the heart that is only 1.5 to 2 centimetres in size.
Older models of hearts provided a limited representation of abnormalities and Doctor Marcin Wiechec wants to print 29 different versions of a fetal heart in 1:10 scale to distribute to fellow obstetricians and cardio surgeons.
"Over here you can see very clearly that we are dealing with a correct structure, but here it seems something is missing," Wiechec said while comparing models of a healthy and abnormal heart. "We can see the difference at first glance."
The new model was created using data gathered from ultrasound images in cooperation with a local 3D imaging studio.
Its qualities can be useful for both doctors and parents, who can see an actual representation of their future child's heart on a visual model.
"We very often use diagrams, we use drawings, very often had drawings. The (3D) model has an entirely different meaning in clarifying a problem. Here you can in a tangible way show what the problem is, you can also explain by consulting with a cardio surgeon what the post-birth treatment will be," Wiechec said.
Patient Magdalena Ozug, the future mother of what now looks like a baby boy who is treated in the Krakow clinic, said she welcomed the idea of being able to see a more accurate model of what her child's heart might look like.
"It seems to me that we are in a comfortable situation that we have this opportunity, because not everyone had the opportunity before, to see the baby before it's born and detect flaws that could be prevented in advance. This makes me very glad," she said.