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Scientists at ETH Zurich and the South African company Strait Access Technologies are using 3-D printing to produce custom-made artificial heart valves from silicone. This could help meet an aging population's growing demand for replacement heart valves.
The human heart has four chambers, each equipped with a valve to ensure blood flow in one direction only. If any of the heart valves are leaking, narrowed or distended (or even ruptured), the blood runs back into the atria or ventricles, putting the entire heart under severe strain. In the worst case, this can lead to arrhythmia or even heart failure.
Severity - Defect - Heart - Valves - Problem
Depending on the severity of the defect, artificial heart valves can be inserted to remedy the problem. Over the next few decades, demand for this type of surgery is likely to soar in many parts of the world due to the aging population, lack of physical exercise and poor diet. It is estimated that around 850,000 people will require artificial heart valves in 2050.
Researchers working at ETH Zurich and the South African company SAT have therefore been looking for an alternative to the replacement heart valves currently in use. And with some success: they have developed an artificial heart valve made of silicone, which is created in several steps using 3-D printers. The scientists have reported on their work in an article in the latest issue of the scientific journal "Matter."
Model - Advantages - Heart - Heart - Valve
The new model has several advantages over conventional heart valves: the silicone heart valve can be tailored more precisely to the patient, as the researchers first determine the individual shape and size of the leaky heart valve using computer tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. This makes it possible to print a heart valve that fits the patient's heart chamber perfectly. The researchers use the images to create a digital model and a computer...
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