About “3D-printed Fetal Heart Models for Prenatal Diagnostics” project

The project aims to shorten the learning curve of diagnosing fetal heart defects mainly by OB/GYN physicians, fetal medicine specialists, but also by pediatric cardiologists dealing with fetal heart examination. Until recently, a substantial group of experts, mainly coming from pediatric cardiology, did not believe that a non-cardiologist could detect fetal heart defects successfully and they popularized a primitive screening system based on applying only selected cardiac views taken out of the context. It led to the situation when OB/GYN physicians, as primary care physicians, because it is them who examine pregnant patients, omitted a lot of anomalies. They relied on some aspects of ultrasound images, which may be a sign of a heart defect. They were not taught the patterns of individual defects because it was acknowledged that diagnosis should be given by experts, so-called fetal cardiologist (at present, there is no such medical specialty in any country, however, a group of physicians use this title). The authors of this project went a long way to understand the diagnosis of fetal heart defects studying in various centres, and they reached a conclusion that it is not as difficult as we thought earlier, and that there are some specific features constituting patterns, which allow to diagnose and classify a given anomaly in up to a few minutes. On the way, authors of 3D models comprehended that present education system is not perfect, and OB/GYN physicians are too often blamed for diagnostic failures.

Finally we understood the patterns of congenital heart defects (CHDs) only owing to 3D heart ultrasound. About 10 years ago, we believed that using this method, we could help our colleagues in diagnosis and, above all, provide patients with ultrasound scans of a better quality. However, 3D ultrasound is not much repeatable and it requires a lot of patience and a difficult learning curve from the examiner. Therefore, the authors of the project were made to change their strategy. Pediatric cardiologists are familiar with the patterns of fetal heart defects thanks to postnatal images on the basis of catherisation techniques, which is incomprehensible to a OB/GYN physician. Some of them try to explain fetal heart defects on the basis of autopsy specimens, but lack of tissue tension do not translate them into ultrasound images. Such demonstrations, which often take hours, fill the course time, but they do not have any effect on everyday work.

In that case, a few years ago we developed the conception of layered models: 3D heart printouts based on compliance with ultrasound image. Owing to the models, OB/GYN physicians, who take part in our ultrasound workshops (www.mwucourses.com), begin to understand the subject and they learn to interpret prenatal images in a simpler way. Our models also turned out to be of help in consulting patients. For instance, during our workshops in March 2016 we detected a fetal heart defect in the fetus from screening at the practical session. We had a model of this heart defect so we could thoroughly explain everything to the patient, who did not expect such diagnosis.

We also recommend our video materials on YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/mwugroup

Polish premiere (December 2015)

Video coverage: Fetal Heart course

International premiere during Fetal Cardio Cracow 2016 course (scheduled for 6-7 May 2016 - www.ultrasoundcracow.com)

Media coverage:

Gazeta Krakowska – Nominations for the man of the year 2016

TVP2 Pytanie na śniadanie – Breakthrough in the detection of heart defects in children

TVP Kraków – Fetal Cardio Cracov with our models

Polityka – The difficult art of ultrasound: helpful printing 3d

gazeta.pl – Heart in three dimensions. Cracow doctors have created the world’s first 3D model of fetal heart

parenting.pl – Doctors from Poland created a model of fetal heart in 3d

wykop.pl – Polish doctors have created a model of fetal heart in 3d

Radio Opole – Polish doctors have created a model of fetal heart in 3d

Medycyna Praktyczna – Polish doctors have created a three dimensional model of fetal heart

rynekzdrowia.pl – Polish doctors mapped 3D model of fetal heart

TVN Fakty – Cracov doctors have created a model of the fetal heart in 3d

tvn24.pl – Polish doctors have created a model of fetal heart in 3d

Puls Medycyny – Polish doctors have created 3d models of fetal heart

portalemedyczne.pl – Poles created a 3d model of fetal heart

Paramid 3D – 3d model of the fetal heart

Radio Maryja – A breakthrough in the detection of heart defects of the unborn child

Zakład dydaktyki fizyki – Printed in 3D models fetal heart normal and with congenital malformations

dobreusg.pl – 3d fetal heart models

Med Trends – Why medicine needs 3D printing

Lek. med. Bożena Kotowska – 3D model of the fetal heart in practice

Maciej Orzechowski (politician) – Greater detection of defects in the baby’s heart

Super Express – News headlines from the country