Philip Breedon and a team of researches at Nottingham Trent University have developed a 3D-printed, battery operated heart valve implant. It will act as a temporary solution as patients wait for a heart transplant and will help a damaged heart to circulate blood.
The team have made use of 3D-printing technology as the implant needs to be customised for each patient based on the images retained from MRI scans. The implant is grafted into a removed section of the aorta. It is coated in flexible material that expands with voltage and will beat a little out of sync with the heart to help pump blood.
The implant allows for mobility, the patient can be up and about whereas patients waiting for heart transplants are usually hooked up to a bed-side system that assists the heart in pumping blood. A downfall of the device is its dependency on batteries that need to be replaced which requires more surgery. However Breedon and his team are currently working to fix this issue. It is being improved to minimise power usage and ways to wirelessly charge the device are being looked at.
Featured image by Bartek Elsner