Science Connects Partners with Technology

Using prosthetic heart valves for practice reduces medical risks and complications

3D laser scanning has shaped our lives in many ways without us even knowing it. Researchers have adopted this tool to help in many areas. Because of that, this technology has proven to be some of the most useful tools on the market. Researchers are now using 3D laser scanning to help create patient-specific heart valve models. Sometimes prosthetic heart valves are needed to practice on, and this can save lives. With the help of this technology, it can be done easier than ever before.

Creating models to use before surgery can drastically change the outcome of the operation. The more practice a doctor has, the more likely a patient’s surgery will go well. However, it hasn’t always been so easy to create heart valves for practice. Not until a group of students from the University of Minnesota partnered with Medtronic to use 3D laser scanning and printing to make custom valves for heart operations.

“Physicians can actually test and try the valve implants before the procedure. Our goal with these 3D printed models is to reduce medical risks and complications by providing patient-specific tools to help doctors understand the exact anatomical structure and mechanical properties of the specific patient’s heart.” Michael McAlpine, lead researcher.

What is 3D laser scanning

This technology wasn’t always so popular, and it is not incredibly new. It was created years ago in the 1960s but wasn’t adopted until the early 1990s. Over the past few decades, both 3D laser scanning and 3D printing have grown immensely and has created a booming industry. It uses laser and cameras, as well as other advanced technology to capture data on an object.

A camera is used to collect rapid pictures of an object or, in this case, a person’s heart. At the same time, a laser beam is projected. It in no way harms the object; it is a non-intrusive laser beam that bounces over the object. The light is measured by how far it travels and its time to get back to the machine.

3D laser scanning collects information like size, textures, colors, holes, dimensions, and much more. It is so incredibly accurate than no human could ever gather this detailed information. If they could, it would take years to sort through. It is faster than any other previous method and creates something that is customized depending on the object.

What can you do with 3D laser scans

After an object is scanned by the 3D laser scanning device, you can do a few options with it. This is one of the reasons this technology is being adopted so quickly. It gives users a lot of options. Everything that is captured is saved in the cloud, which is a huge server.

From there, it can be sent across the world as a 3D file for anyone to access. Researchers who can get it can keep it as a file or develop the information into virtual reality. Or a scientist can turn it into a physical model using 3D printing. By 3D printing an object they get an exact copy of the original model. 3D laser scanning has changed our entire world and totally reshaping the way we prepare for surgeries.

Keep reading: more articles about 3D scanning

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