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3D imaging aids surgeons in better understanding heart anatomy, enhancing the safety of catheterization procedures. (photo WKZ)

3D Catheterization Prevents Unnecessary Surgeries

During the recent World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology and Pediatric Heart Surgery held in Washington DC, cardiac specialists had the opportunity to live-stream a catheterization procedure on a ten-year-old patient at the Wilhelmina Children's Hospital. In this treatment for a child with a congenital heart defect, cardiac catheterization specialist Gregor Krings and his team utilized 3D techniques to insert a pulmonary valve via the femoral artery.
Approximately 1,000 experts specializing in catheterization tuned in to the live-stream from the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital (WKZ). At WKZ, pediatric cardiologists perform catheterizations on an average of 200 children annually.”Hospitals typically conduct such operations using 2D techniques, but we are at the forefront of 3D technology,” says Gregor Krings. “3D imaging helps us better comprehend heart anatomy, enabling safer procedures, reducing collateral damage, and minimizing radiation exposure to the child.”

The benefits of 3D imaging in surgeries are also embraced at the Orthopedics Clinic of Bravis Hospital, where a 3D navigation system has been in use for a year. This is particularly crucial in procedures involving spinal fixation with screws, as incorrectly placed screws can lead to nerve damage.

Successful 3D Catheterization

The ten-year-old patient was born with ‘Taussig Bing,’ a congenital heart defect. Following birth, pediatric heart surgeons performed a complex ‘Nikaido’ operation, and the patient thrived for five years until the donor heart valve calcified. Initially, a stent was placed to maintain the heart’s narrowing.

Five years later, a new heart valve was needed. This valve was inserted under 3D guidance through a catheter inserted via the femoral artery. Remarkably, the patient was discharged just two days later, with only two small groin scars.

Benefits of Catheterization

The Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital in the Netherlands leads the way in pediatric heart catheterization. This procedure allows the evaluation and treatment of heart and vascular defects, including the closure of holes with umbrella-like devices and the alleviation of blockages using stents.

Additionally, catheterization enables the implantation of heart valves via the femoral artery. The advantages of this minimally invasive approach are substantial: it postpones the need for open-heart surgery, reduces hospital stays, speeds up recovery, and leaves minimal scarring.

3D Mapping

In addition to the advantages of catheterization, WKZ introduced a state-of-the-art 3D-equipped pediatric heart catheterization room in the fall of 2022. This innovation offers improved image quality, reduced radiation exposure for children, and faster 3D imaging, necessitating less contrast dye. The sharper images reveal even finer details.

For over a decade, WKZ has been the sole medical center in our country where 3D recordings of children with congenital heart defects are made before and during heart catheterization. By creating a “3-dimensional map” of their hearts and immediate surroundings, doctors can precisely determine which treatments are feasible.


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