The Value of 3D Printing Models of Left Atrial Appendage Using Real-Time 3D Transesophageal Echocardiographic Data in Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion: Applications toward an Era of Truly Personalized Medicine

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Aims and Objectives: The objective of this study was to assess the clinical feasibility of generating 3D printing models of left atrial appendage (LAA) using real-time 3D transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) data for preoperative reference of LAA occlusion. Background: Percutaneous LAA occlusion can effectively prevent patients with atrial fibrillation from stroke. However, the anatomical structure of LAA is so complicated that adequate information of its structure is essential for successful LAA occlusion. Emerging 3D printing technology has the demonstrated potential to structure more accurately than conventional imaging modalities by creating tangible patient-specific models. Typically, 3D printing data sets are acquired from CT and MRI, which may involve intravenous contrast, sedation, and ionizing radiation. It has been reported that 3D models of LAA were successfully created by the data acquired from CT. However, 3D printing of the LAA using real-time 3D TEE data has not yet been explored. Methods: Acquisition of 3D transesophageal echocardiographic data from 8 patients with atrial fibrillation was performed using the Philips EPIQ7 ultrasound system. Raw echocardiographic image data were opened in Philips QLAB and converted to ‘Cartesian DICOM' format and imported into Mimics® software to create 3D models of LAA, which were printed using a rubber-like material. The printed 3D models were then used for preoperative reference and procedural simulation in LAA occlusion. Results: We successfully printed LAAs of 8 patients. Each LAA costs approximately CNY 800-1,000 and the total process takes 16-17 h. Seven of the 8 Watchman devices predicted by preprocedural 2D TEE images were of the same sizes as those placed in the real operation. Interestingly, 3D printing models were highly reflective of the shape and size of LAAs, and all device sizes predicted by the 3D printing model were fully consistent with those placed in the real operation. Also, the 3D printed model could predict operating difficulty and the presence of a peridevice leak. Conclusions: 3D printing of the LAA using real-time 3D transesophageal echocardiographic data has a perfect and rapid application in LAA occlusion to assist with physician planning and decision making.

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