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IPA Lab | Image Processing Applications Laboratory

3D Cardiac Modeling

HeartCase1 HeartCase2

Use the links above to view 3D models of various heart defects using the 3DVIA internet browser plugin. More models coming soon.


Current tangible models for surgical education and planning are primarily limited to generic cases that are not patient-specific. These are of limited value since every individual is different and the general models are not based on real patient data. In addition, these models are not designed to display defects. This project addresses current limitations through creation of patient-specific cardiovascular models for a normal and an abnormal heart case by translating two-dimensional medical image computed tomography (CT) data into tangible three-dimensional color-coded models in sizes similar to that of the actual patient heart. This allows for a hands-on approach to surgical planning and education rather than the computational methods used widely today, allowing easy planning and measurements to be taken physically. Recent advancements in rapid prototyping (RP) have made it possible to prototype complex geometries with embedded color-coding, which is important for this project. It allows the conventional color-coding scheme to be applied to the different portions of the heart, making each portion distinguishable. Such models will aid in surgical planning and education for hospitals and educational institutions, which are expected to compose the largest portion of the product’s market. Ultimately, we expect that these tools will improve surgical outcomes by providing increased visualization of heart geometries.


The physical models of hearts that are currently used for surgical education and planning are limited to generic cases that are not based on real patient data and do not display heart defects. This project addresses those limitations by creating physical models using a patient’s computed tomography (CT) data. These two-dimensional images are transformed into tangible three-dimensional, color-coded models that are approximately the same size as the patient’s heart. With anatomically accurate dimensions, these hearts will allow for easy surgical planning and education. Measurements will be able to be taken physically and the color-coding will make each portion easily distinguishable. Ultimately, we expect that these tools will improve surgical outcomes by providing a clear visualization of heart geometries.

Current Work:

IPALab currently collaborates with Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. This collaboration has resulted in an ASU satellite lab at PCH, the 3D Cardiac Print Lab. This lab specializes in the development of 3D printed heart models for family consultation, medical education, and surgical planning. To date, the lab has produced over 120 patient-specific hearts.