Surgeons from the Boston Children's Hospital Center collaborated with an engineering company to design a cardiac patch and plan surgery for an 18-year-old patient with a complex cardiac condition
For decades, computer modelling and simulation tools were successfully employed in many engineering sectors. Applications include structural simulations of buildings and bridges, aerodynamic simulations of aeroplanes and Formula 1 cars, and even pilot training simulators. All this wealth of expertise is now increasingly applied to the healthcare sector, with the involvement of engineering tools and companies.
A successful example is the case of an 18-year-old patient from North Carolina (USA) who presented at the Boston Children's Heart Center with an enlarged right atrium, the upper chamber of the heart. This condition resulted in inefficient blood circulation and needed a complex surgical procedure involving the placement of a patch on the aorta, the main and largest artery of the human body.
This case benefitted from the collaboration between the hospital and the French engineering company Dassault Systemes, which developed simulation and engineering tools to plan complex operations. The medical team could, therefore, run a series of computer simulations of the surgical procedure, including the simulation of the resulting blood flow. Furthermore, it also employed software originally developed for aeroplane wing engineering to design and construct the cuff to be applied during the surgery.
In the end, the surgery was a success, with the cuff fitting precisely as planned. Such a result encouraged surgeons at the Boston Children's Heart Center to plan the application of such tools for other surgeries they do more routinely, possibly providing personalised and precisely designed surgical treatments.