3D heart aids surgeon with child's heart procedure

Published on April 3, 2014

A 14-month-old boy in need of life-saving heart surgery is the beneficiary of a collaboration among University of Louisville engineers, physicians and Kosair Children’s Hospital. Roland Lian Cung Bawi of Owensboro was born with four congenital heart defects and his doctors were looking for greater insights into his condition prior to a Feb. 10 operation.

Dr. Philip Dydynski, chief of radiology at Kosair Children’s Hospital, recently had toured the Rapid Prototyping Center at the University of Louisville’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering and became impressed with the 3D printing capabilities available there.

He asked the center’s operations manager, Tim Gornet, if a 3D model of the child’s heart could be constructed using a template created by images from a CT scan to allow doctors to better plan and prepare for his surgery. No problem, Gornet said.

The result of the Rapid Prototyping Center’s work was a model heart 1.5 times the size of the child’s. It was built in three pieces using a flexible filament and required about 20 machine hours – and only about $600 -– to make, Gornet said.

Once the model was built, Dr. Erle Austin III, cardiothoracic surgeon with University of Louisville Physicians, was able to develop a surgical plan and complete the heart repair with only one operation.

“I found the model to be a game changer in planning to do surgery on a complex congenital heart defect,” he said.

Roland was released from Kosair Children’s Hospital Feb. 14 and returned Feb. 21 for checkups with his doctors at UofL Physicians - Pediatric Cardiology. His prognosis is good. 

That’s good news for Gornet, whose work at the Rapid Prototyping Center routinely benefits manufacturers and heavy industry. Helping surgeons save a life was new territory for him.

“Knowing we can make somebody’s life better is exciting,” he said. 

About Dr. Erle Austin III

Dr. Erle Austin III is board certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He earned his medical degree at the Harvard Medical School in 1974. He completed a surgery residency at both Duke University Medical Center and the National Cancer Institute/National Institute of Health. He completed a third residency in general and thoracic surgery at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Austin also completed a fellowship in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston.

Refer a patient or Make an appointment

Dr. Austin practices out of UofL Physicians - Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at Jewish Hospital (Rudd Heart & Lung Building), 201 Abraham Flexner Way, Suite 1200, Louisville, KY 40202. 

To refer a patient to Dr. Austin or make an appointment, please call 588-7600. Appointments can also be made through online Request an Appointment form.

View his profile: http://www.uoflphysicians.com/1710926290-erle-austin

About UofL Physicians - Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

UofL Physicians - Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery is Kentucky’s premier cardiothoracic surgical group and among the most experienced cardiothoracic practices in the nation, averaging more than 1,600 procedures annually. The group is internationally recognized for their work in mechanical circulatory support and heart transplantation, and are pioneers of major advancements in cardiothoracic surgery.