Complex congenital cardiac defects in children: a new study by Fondazione Monasterio and Sant'Anna School on virtual REALITY TECHNOLOGY FOR more effective PEDIATRIC cardiac surgery and treatment of tracheal defects

Medical doctors and engineers will study how virtual reality technology and 3D models may help surgeons in the surgical plan of children with complex cardiac defects. This new study, 3D Virtual Baby Heart, is developed by doctors of Giuseppe Monasterio Foundation and researchers of Sant’Anna School TeCIP Perceptual Technology Institute with the support of the Italian Ministry of Health and the Tuscany Region authority.

3D models are gaining consensus in different medical fields to plan surgical strategies as they may allow a better understanding of complex 3D anatomy, simulation of surgical maneuvers and provide additional information on physiological mechanisms. The use of 3D models may ameliorate the surgical plan of children with complex congenital cardiac and tracheal defects, reduce times and costs of interventions, and prevent complications later in life.

The 3D Virtual Baby Heart project aims to test the accuracy and the incremental diagnostic value of 3D stereo-lithographic and virtual models in children undergoing cardiac surgery for complex congenital heart disease (CHDs) or tracheal defects. Despite recent advances in current imaging techniques for the diagnosis of CHDs, there are still significant limitations in 3D visualization; surgeons are often forced to rely on personal experience and on intra-operative findings to improve children’s health outcomes.

3D models may offer advantages over traditional imaging examinations. They anticipate a three-dimensional image of heart, trachea and chest cavity that surgeons would see behind a surgical opening at each stage of surgery.

Doctors of Giuseppe Monasterio Foundation and researchers of the TeCIP Institute developing the 3D Virtual Baby Heart will work under the supervision of Michele Murzi, Massimiliano Cantinotti, Simona Celi (Giuseppe Monasterio Foundation) and Paolo Tripicchio (TeCIP Institute).