Five-year-old Mia Gonzalez has always suffered from breathing issues which limited her ability to function as a normal child. Doctors discovered a rare heart malformation known as double aortic arch. The condition causes restricted airflow due to the entanglement of an extra vascular ring around either the trachea or the esophagus. Often misdiagnosed as asthma, this serious condition requires a complex surgical procedure.
Dr. Redmond Burke, Director of Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, and his team were faced with a difficult challenge: How could the surgical team separate the double aortic arch without causing additional harm to Mia? The solution was 3D printing.
“By making a 3D model of her very complex aortic arch vessels, we were able to further visualize which part of her arch should be divided to achieve the best physiological result,” said Dr. Burke. “It’s very powerful when you show a family ‘this is your baby’s heart and this is how I’m going to repair it.”