A New System for Surgery

Medical researchers adopt best practices from every possible discipline to keep patients from dying and improve the quality of their lives. A team from Politecnico di Milano in Italy is working with a network of researchers from around the world to apply systems modeling to help physicians make surgical decisions for children born with a heart condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). This is a congenital heart condition that results in only one functioning ventricle. Medical advances over the last two decades have allowed successful palliation and survival for some, but these children must undergo at least three surgeries, multiple interventions and a lifetime of abnormal physiology as their hearts function with only two chambers instead of the normal four. Many children do not survive after every stage of the surgery since their physiology remains in a tenuous state.

Politecnico di Milano participates in a collaborative cardiovascular team for the nonprofit Transatlantic Network, a group that pools a critical mass of competence and skills to advance medical knowledge. Network partners provided a 3-D reconstruction of the pre-operative anatomy of a patient, including detailed pulmonary branches from agnetic resonance (MR) images.

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