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MRI simulation of blood flow helps plan child's delicate heart surgery
Date:8/14/2009

els, surgeons and cardiologists must ensure that the lungs will receive proper amounts of blood and nutrients after the surgery so that normal development occurs.

"Preoperatively determining the Fontan configuration that will achieve balanced blood flow to the lungs is very difficult and the wide variety and complexity of patients' anatomies requires an approach that is very specific and personalized," said Ajit Yoganathan, Ph.D., Regents' Professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. "With our surgical planning framework, the physicians gain a better understanding of each child's unique heart defect, thus improving the surgery outcome and recovery time."

The patient described in this paper, Amanda Mayer, age four, of Staten Island, N.Y., had previously undergone all three stages of the Fontan procedure at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, but developed severe complications. Her oxygen saturation was very low only 72 percent, compared to normal levels of at least 95 percent which indicated the possibility of abnormal connections between the veins and arteries in one of her lungs. Normally, the liver releases hormonal factors that prevent these abnormal connections, so the presence of the malformations indicated a low supply of hepatic blood to the lung.

To improve the distribution of these hormonal factors to both lungs, the surgeons needed to re-operate and reconfigure the patient's cardiovascular anatomy. Georgia Tech's surgical planning framework helped Thomas L. Spray, M.D., chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Children's Hospital, to determine the optimal surgical option.

"MRI acquires images of the child's heart without using radiation," said Spray. "Then we use the computerized technology to model different connections to simulate optimum blood flow characteristics, before we perform the surgery."

The image-based surgical plan
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Contact: Abby Vogel
avogel@gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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