This is a fascinating article that came to me by way of MAKE Magazine who found it on UK site theEngineer. It involves an engineer in the UK building his own aortic prosthesis to overcome a condition known as Marfan syndrome, an inherited disorder that affects the connective tissue of the body. It was causing this fellow’s aorta right below the heart to expand like a balloon to the point where it was at risk of popping and causing a fatal heart attack. The doctors gave him a choice of either risking the sudden catastrophic heart attack or undergoing surgery to replace that section of aorta with a mechanical valve that would lead him taking Warfarin for the rest of his life. He chose a third option and worked with doctors and researchers to build a custom-fit reinforcing “glove” to hold the aorta in place where it needed to be.

They gathered the data for the shape of the implant with MRI, used CAD to generate a 3D model, and then used 3D additive machining to create a mold over which conventional high strength medical polymer textiles could be applied and formed into the correct shape. Here is the mold:

aortic implant mold

A mold for the aortic implant created with a 3D rapid prototyping technology…

Full details are in the original article–recommended reading if you have any interest in this sort of thing! I was quite curious because my grandfather had a similar problem.


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