The Cincinnati Children’s Heart Surgery Program is a leader in developing innovative technology and surgical planning tools that help us improve outcomes for patients. We have developed many advances here in the Heart Institute that are now being widely used throughout the cardiothoracic surgery field to enhance patient care and outcomes.

Performing Complex Repairs in Advance with Virtual Surgery

Heart Surgery VR.Digital advances are opening up new paths for planning surgeries. “We can take any 3D imaging file and do a variety of things with it,” explains cardiologist Ryan A. Moore, MD, director of Heart Institute Digital Media and 3D Modeling, and associate director of the Cincinnati Children’s Media Lab. “We can 3D print it; build it into an animation; create a hologram; or use it with virtual reality, augmented reality or mixed reality.” Cincinnati Children’s is one of the few centers that has taken this approach and branched out to expand one digital file into many forms.

“We can do a 3D reconstruction of a specific patient’s chest wall and heart and lung anatomy to see how a device will fit in that patient or how unique congenital defects can be repaired,” says David L.S. Morales, MD, who is director of Congenital Heart Surgery for the Heart Institute.

Because of this work, the FDA recently accepted virtual implantation for the first time as a criterion for determining fit of a device inside a human.

Using Virtual Heart Transplantation to Match More Organs to Recipients in Need

For heart transplantation, achieving a close size match between a donor organ and the space within a recipient’s chest cavity is crucial to success, yet can be especially challenging to achieve when working with children.

In fact, this challenge has meant that children with end-stage heart failure face the highest waiting list mortality in all of transplant medicine. Now, size-matching complexities have become easier to solve thanks to a 3D virtual reality process developed at Cincinnati Children’s. 

The team working on this found that virtual sizing enabled more donor organs to be acceptable for transplantation.

Heartpedia app with 3D interactive heart models

heartpedia app.Heartpedia is an education app from Cincinnati Children’s that allows you to interact with 3D models of various congenital heart conditions. Each model includes three views of the heart—normal, defect and repair—in relation to the heart condition. You can use these to view the difference in your child’s heart and how it will be repaired.

Where to find it:

  • Heartpedia app: Available for download on both iPhone and Android; search for “Cincinnati Children’s” and look for the app titled Heartpedia

HeartpediaTM Surgical Animate! app

Heart Animation.The Heart Institute team has developed surgical animation videos to walk viewers through procedures for congenital heart conditions from beginning to end. They include a narrated explanation and a pre- and post-repair comparison for procedures such as coarctation of the aorta or atrioventricular septal defect (ASD).

This app combines all of these animations into one convenient place. Having them in app form means you don’t need to rely on a WiFi connection to watch them. You can also connect directly to the Heartpedia app from within Heartpedia Surgical Animate!

Where to find them:

Hank the Heart video animation

Hank the Heart.Hank the Heart is an anime heart created by Cincinnati Children’s pediatric cardiologist Ryan A. Moore, MD, to teach his patients about the heart. Hank appears in an animated YouTube video about pulmonary hypertension. A picture book titled Hank the Heart, for kids ages 4-8, uses Hank to explain congenital heart defects to readers in easy-to-understand, child-friendly language. The book was co-created by Dr. Moore along with John Hutton, MD, an experienced children’s book author and Cincinnati Children’s pediatrician, and digital artists from the Cincinnati Children’s in-house Media Lab.

Where to find Hank: