Quantitative and qualitative comparison of low- and high-cost 3D-printed heart models
Current visualization techniques of complex congenital heart disease (CHD) are unable to provide comprehensive visualization of the anomalous cardiac anatomy as the medical datasets can essentially only be viewed from a flat, two-dimensional (2D) screen. Three-dimensional (3D) printing has therefore been used to replicate patient-specific hearts in 3D views based on medical imaging datasets. This technique has been shown to have a positive impact on the preoperative planning of corrective surgery, patient-doctor communication, and the learning experience of medical students. However, 3D printing is often costly, and this impedes the routine application of this technology in clinical practice. This technical note aims to investigate whether reducing 3D printing costs can have any impact on the clinical value of the 3D-printed heart models. Low-cost and a high-cost 3D-printed models based on a selected case of CHD were generated with materials of differing cost. Quantitative assessment of dimensional accuracy of the cardiac anatomy and pathology was compared between the 3D-printed models and the original cardiac computed tomography (CT) images with excellent correlation (r=0.99). Qualitative evaluation of model usefulness showed no difference between the two models in medical applications.