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Learn More About The 3DPrintHeart Program

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For the last decade The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has been utilizing 3D printed heart models to assist doctors in the management of patients with complex congenital heart disease. This work was pioneered and driven by Dr Shi-Joon Yoo with the support of the surgeons, physicians and engineers within SickKids. Doctors now have a new tool in their armory to diagnose and plan treatment strategies for these patients, some with the rarest and most complex heart defects.

The primary focus of the 3DPrintHeart program include:

Clinical – a tool for surgical and interventional treatment strategies.

Education – the training and development of the next generation
of surgeons and physicians in congenital heart disease.

Research – using 3D printed heart models to study cardiac disease. 

In this ever evolving industry, we believe that 3D printing will become an instrumental adjunct in the care of patients worldwide.

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Our Process
Segmentation & Design

Real-life images in the form of CT or MRI are regularly taken for the diagnosis of patients with complex congenital heart disease. However, understanding the patient’s anatomy from these images requires a complicated process of mental reconstruction and can often be inaccurate or wrong. These scans can be used to capture the blood containing cavities within the body on a computer and segmented to focus on the structure desired for printing.


This data is converted into a file which can be altered to produce a model that is ready to be 3D-printed. During this process the models can be hollowed and trimmed to show particular aspects of the heart that would otherwise be difficult to see. Other structures, such as heart valves and coronary arteries can also be superimposed onto the model to increase its ‘realness’.

3D Printing

The completed heart files are loaded onto a 3D-printer and materials assigned. These can vary from rigid plastic to soft pliable models that can be used for surgical simulation. Each layer of the 3D-printed heart is made by depositing both the designated material alongside a support material. This supports the structural integrity of the model during the print. With current technology a full-size pediatric heart can take between 5-10 hours to print depending on its size.

Post Process & Quality Check

After the model is printed, it is harvested and the supporting material is either washed out with a waterjet, blown away with an airjet or dissolved away with chemicals and water. Depending on the material and the complexity of the model this can take between a few minutes to an hour. This process requires a great degree of care as printed structures can be less than 1mm in thickness. During the printing process, colours can be assigned to the model, however this involves a mixing of materials which changes the chemical composition of the heart model. Alternatively, models can be printed in a clear colour and dyed following the washing process.   

Ready For Use

The model is now ready to use. Depending on the requirements of the model they can be used to:

  1. Demonstrate the complex heart anatomy to the doctor assisting them in their patient’s management strategy

  2. Used by a junior surgeon to rehearse a complex repair in a safe, non- consequential environment

  3. Used as an education tool to teach doctors and students

  4. To help explain the diagnosis and treatment to patients and their parents.

Our Team

Meet The Team

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Dr. Shi-Joon Yoo

Dr Yoo is a cardiac radiologist and clinical director of the 3D printing program at the Hospital for Sick Children. He is a professor in the Departments of Medical Imaging and Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. His main clinical and research activities are MR and CT applications in children with cardiovascular disease and fetal echocardiography. He has developed a unique training program for cardiac imaging where both radiology and cardiology fellows collaborate closely together in a harmonious and productive manner. He has introduced 3D printing technology to the program. This technique allows preoperative simulation of the surgical procedures in patients with complex congenital heart disease.

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Dr. David Barron

Dr Barron is a staff cardiovascular surgeon and head of the Division of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children. His clinical practice focuses on open heart surgery in both pediatric and adult patients with congenital heart disease. His interests include hypoplastic left heart syndrome, congenitally corrected transposition and complex pulmonary atresia.

Dr Barron is one of the lead surgical proctors for the HOST program at Sickkids and is involved with curriculum and model development.

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Dr. Osami Honjo

Dr Honjo is a staff cardiovascular surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children. His clinical practice focuses on open heart surgery in neonates and infants, surgical palliation for single ventricle patients, mechanical cardiopulmonary support in the pediatric population, and surgery for patients with adult congenital heart diseases.

Dr Honjo is one of the lead surgical proctors for the HOST program at Sickkids and developed the In-House curriculum alongside Dr Yoo and Dr Hussein. He is an integral part of the teaching and validation of the surgical models used in the HOST simulation.

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Dr. Christoph Haller

Dr Haller is a staff cardiovascular surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children. His clinical practice focuses on open heart surgery in both pediatric and adult patients with congenital heart disease. Dr Haller attended the inaugural HOST course in 2015 as a delegate whilst a fellow at Sickkids and now is one of the proctors of the course.

In addition to his other research interests, Dr Haller is exploring the use of 3D-printing to gain further insight into complex aortic arch reconstruction. He is collaborating with the 3D printing team to expand the HOST program to minimally invasive congenital cardiac surgery.


Dr. Glen Van Arsdell

Dr Van Arsdell is the Chief of Congenital Cardiovascular Surgery at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and former head of the Division of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children. His clinical focus is on neonatal repairs, complex palliations and adult congenital surgery.

Along with Dr Yoo, he pioneered the introduction of 3D printing into congenital cardiac surgery with its implementation into hands-on surgical training. Dr Van Arsdell continues to be an integral part of the HOST program, proctoring at the annual sessions.


Dr Ankavipar Pam Saprungruang

Dr. Ankavipar Pam Saprungruang is a pediatric cardiologist from Thailand. She received her medical degree from Chulalongkorn university, Bangkok, Thailand in 2011. Pam completed her Pediatric Residency at the Chulalongkorn University followed by her Pediatric Cardiology training at the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand. She was working as a pediatric cardiologist at the Cardiac Center, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital prior to coming to Toronto. She completed advanced cardiac imaging fellowship at SickKids in 2020-2021.

Pam joined Dr. Yoo research lab in 2021 for clinical research fellowship in 3D printing heart.

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Dr. Nabil Hussein

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Dr Hussein is a cardiothoracic surgery resident from the UK with a strong interest in congenital cardiac surgery and medical education. He has recently completed a research fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Toronto and was awarded a PhD for his research. His thesis is on creating 3D printed heart models to help train congenital heart surgery residents and fellows in complex pediatric heart procedures. He has a keen interest in surgical simulation and its incorporation into dedicated training programmes.


Brandon Peel

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Brandon graduated from the University of Guelph in 2018 and holds a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering. At SickKids, Brandon works as a 3D Printing Engineer where he oversees all technical equipment and manages the hospital-wide 3D Printing service. Since working at SickKids, he has become specialized in various medical 3D printing applications including cardiology, orthopaedics, anatomical simulations and surgical tool development.

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Pascal Voyer-Nguyen

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Pascal is a mechanical engineering student at The University of Waterloo and a co-op at SickKids. His research work involves the 3D modelling of heart valves and surgical patching for aortic repair. Pascal also has experience with mechanical design and motor control for surgical robots.

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Dr. Israel Valverde

Dr. Valverde was appointed as the Section head of the Cardiac MR program and the Director of the 3D Printing program of the Hospital for Sick Children in 2023. He received his medical degree and residency training in Seville, Spain, and pediatric cardiology fellowship in London, UK. He achieved a postgraduate research degree, MD(Res), at the Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences department of King's College London, UK. His PhD thesis in 2022 was Evaluation of Multimodal Imaging for 3D Printing in Congenital Heart Disease.

He worked in Seville and London as a pediatric cardiology staff since 2014 until he joined SickKids. His research is focused on 3D MR and echocardiography, 3D modeling and printing, and computational fluid dynamic modeling.


Eul Kyung Kim 

Ms Kim leads the post-processing and quality control aspects of the program. This role is fundamental to the production of the high quality models that are produced. With her educational background of nutritional science and education, she worked as a cytogenetic technologist in Seoul National University Hospital in Korea and SickKids. She is an active advocate of education of congenital heart diseases and surgery using 3D print models. She has volunteered to do tedious detailing process after the models are printed. With her exceptionally versatile and fine hands, she makes the aesthetic touches on the models. Her pioneering vision and support has been instrumental to the development of the 3D-printed heart program. 

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