New 3D Printer Enables UA Pediatric Cardiologist to Expand Teaching Methods

October 28, 2015

Michael Seckeler, MD, MSc, assistant professor, University of Arizona Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, is using three-dimensional printing technology to transform teaching pediatric cardiology to medical students and residents at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.

Thanks to a UA Sarver Heart Center fund that supports pediatric cardiology education, Dr. Seckeler received $9,400 to purchase a Dremel 3D Idea Builder printer to create patient-specific 3D models of normal and abnormal hearts using computerized tomography (CT) and medical resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

The 3D models initially will be used to improve the educational experience for UA medical students and residents in pediatric cardiology.

“Laying a solid foundation of normal and abnormal cardiac anatomy is necessary for students learning cardiology,” explained Dr. Seckeler. “The increased availability of 3D printers has created a new opportunity and method for teaching.”

Dr. Seckeler already has begun using 3D models with trainees.

“Complex congenital heart lesions can be very difficult to conceptualize,” said Pediatric Chief Resident Ian Thomas, MD. “3D printing technology gives residents and other trainees something tangible to learn from, which will improve patient care.”

In addition, Dr. Seckeler plans to use 3D models to help patients and their families understand their specific congenital heart defects.

“Congenital heart defects and their treatment are complex and can be difficult for families to comprehend,” said Dr. Seckeler. “Providing a model they can hold in their hands can help them understand what needs to be done to fix their child’s heart. I’m grateful to the Sarver Heart Center for this award.”