Five year old Mia Gonzalez was born with a rare heart disorder called double aortic arch. This is a malformation in which a vascular wring wraps itself around the trachea or espohagus and restricts air flow. It’s often misdiagnosed as asthma — symptoms include labored breathing and choking — but is only treatable with complicated surgery. The challenge lies in dividing the aortic arch without harming the patient, which requires careful and intricate surgical planning.
Thanks to the help of a Stratasys 3D printer, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital surgeons were able to create a model of Mia’s heart, with emphasis on the complex aortic arch vessels. That way, they could better visualize the best place to cut the arch. This is becoming a common practice for Nicklaus surgeons; they have begun to utilize high-tech tools like Stratsys’ 3D printer to plan particularly intricate surgeries. Scan data from MR or CT imaging is loaded into the 3D printer to create a model and scrutinized for the best course of action.
Mia’s surgery was extremely successful, and she’s finally able to live the normal, happy life of a healthy child. Check out her story below!