KOCHI: Ten-month-old Athmika has got a new lease of life and her mother Reshmi can now hold her and feed her without fear of injuring her heart.
The baby was born with a rare defect called ‘congenital absence of sternum’ where the sternum (breastbone), which forms the protective covering, is absent.
In such a condition, the heart and lungs are prone to injury.
Reshmi was terrified when she first saw and held her newborn daughter in September last year. She could see her baby’s heart beating just below the skin of her chest.
Using 3D printing technology available, doctors decided to go in for an innovative approach in her treatment. A multidisciplinary team led by senior plastic surgeon and professor Dr Sundeep Prabhakaran, Dr Brijesh P K (paediatric cardiac surgeon), Dr Mahesh (paediatric cardiologist), Dr Jessin (anaesthetist) and others extensively discussed and planned the surgical procedure that involved a complex reconstruction of the missing bone by using a part of the baby’s own rib.
“We ‘printed’ a life-size model of the baby’s chest from her CT scan using advanced 3D printing software and 3D printing machines in the hospital. This is perhaps the first time in the world that 3D printing is being used to understand and treat the defect,” said Dr Sundeep Prabhakaran, the plastic surgeon who led the surgery.
“For three to six months the child has to be given proper care after which she can lead a normal life,” said Dr Mahesh.