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Technology Predicts Outcome of Child Heart Surgery

Georgia Tech and Emory University researchers have developed an innovative new technology that will help pediatric cardiac surgeons design and test a customized// surgical procedure before they ever pick up a scalpel. With a better understanding of each child’s unique heart defect, surgeons could greatly improve the likelihood that children with complex defects requiring multiple surgeries over a period of several years could have smoother recoveries and an improved quality of life after their operations.

The technology, known as image-based surgical planning and developed with the help of pediatric cardiologists and pediatric surgeons at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Emory University, creates a three-dimensional model of the child’s heart with data from the child’s MRI scans at different times in the cardiac cycle, also called a 4D MRI. The models allow surgeons to visualize the direction of blood flow and determine any energy loss in the heart. So if a surgeon were planning a certain correction to an area of a child’s heart, a model created by the system would show the surgeon how well blood would flow through the newly configured heart.

The goal of the Georgia Tech/Emory project is to create a complete system that allows surgeons to get a detailed look at the child’s heart functions with the new MRI system, design surgical procedures for optimum post-operative performance and evaluate the heart’s performance with a sophisticated blood flow computer simulation.

The work was presented this month at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting in Chicago and has been published in Circulation and the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

“We use the MRI images and time data to create models of these children’s vascular systems and hearts to simulate how they currently work and how they could work after surgery,” said Ajit Yoganathan, Ph.D., a co-principal investigator on the project and asso
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