Exact Copy: Pediatric Cardiologist Loves 3D Printing

Published: April 13, 2021

At the Childrens Hospital of Illinois in Peoria, Dr. Matthew Bramlet 96 works at the forefront of medical technology to apply 3D printing techniques to treat congenital heart disease in children. A pediatric cardiologist who specializes in cardiac MRIs, Bramlet began printing model hearts last year. His groundbreaking work allows surgeons to hold exact copies of patients hearts in their hands prior to surgery, which helps them evaluate defects and visualize solutions during pre-surgery planning.

When it comes to congenital heart disease, even with the best imaging technology it can be hard to fully understand whats going on until youre in surgery, Bramlet says. We want to reduce on-the-fly decision making, which is especially important while hearts are stopped during surgery.

The 3D models often reveal details that traditional 2D imaging technology leaves undetected. In some cases, surgeons completely alter their treatment plans based on additional information the models make available, resulting in improved patient outcomes.

These successes inspire Bramlets latest project. Bramlet, who is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, is working with support from Peorias Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center to collect and publish a digital library of hearts. The library will be useful for practicing cardiologists and medical students.

Greenville College recently purchased two 3D printers. Dr. George Peters, associate professor and chair of the mathematics department, oversaw the use of one during the Greenville College Summer Research Experience. Peters says, Having exposure to the 3D printers can help students stretch their vision as to what is possible.


3D Printing Technology Brings Bock Sculptures to Life

Video GC alumnus and pediatric cardiologist Dr. Matthew Bramlet

This article first appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of The RECORD.

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