Case Studies 2021 02 19 15h28 35

Transforming care for a sick child with congenital heart defects

Case Study
  • Cardiology

CHDs affect nearly 1% of―or about 40,000―births per year in the United States. About 1 in 4 babies with a CHD have a condition that is serious enough to require significant treatment before their first birthday.

The most common type of heart defect is a ventricular septal defect (VSD) - a condition which affects 42 of every 10,000 newborn babies. Many VSDs are small and close on their own, however in some cases there are further complications, such as in this case, where surgical intervention is often required.

A baby boy presented with a combination of heart defects including a large complex inlet VSD, an aortic arch hypoplasia caused by an undeveloped aorta, a coarctation caused by a narrowing of the aorta, and a small left ventricular outflow tract (LVOT) obstruction of the aortic annulus.

The complex nature of this baby’s multiple heart defects meant that the complications weren’t just affecting his heart - but his lungs too. The baby’s left lung had collapsed and his right lung was also impacted, making it difficult for him to breathe.

The doctors had to prepare for a complex surgery, a biventricular repair with VSD closure, to remove the damaged aortic valve and replace it with a pulmonary valve. A 3D printed model of the boy’s heart was requested to enable the surgeons to confirm the safest, most effective surgical plan.

The model proved incredibly helpful in enabling the team to decide on one repair being possible in comparison to another and allowing all members of the team to have the one view on the patient's heart before stepping foot in the operating room.

The benefits of having the model didn’t stop at the operating room. With the prospect of their child going through open-heart surgery undoubtedly causing anxietites for his family, the doctors were able to fully inform and educate the family on his condition and why their actions were not only critical, but the safest and best route to his recovery.