Hospital's cardiac care boosted by ASU biomedical engineers

Frakes 3D heart

An Arizona State University biomedical laboratory at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) will expand its contribution to improving cardiac care for the hospital’s patients.

The PCH Leadership Circle, a philanthropic group that supports improvement in health care for the local community, has awarded a $60,000 grant to ASU biomedical engineer David Frakes and PCH cardiologist Stephen Pophal to advance the work of the ASU 3-D Cardiac Print Lab.

For the past two years, the lab has produced more than 100 3-D models of hearts, using medical images to replicate the hearts of individual patients.

The models are used to aid physicians in planning strategies for heart surgery and other cardiac care procedures.

Providing 3-D model hearts depicting precise anatomical conditions of individual patients helps physicians decrease the potential for medical complications during performance of surgeries and other procedures, Frakes said.

The grant will enable development of a library of 3-D model hearts that depict common pediatric heart defects. The collection will be used to educate family members of pediatric patients about specific medical issues related to the health conditions of the children.

Another 3-D model heart library will be used to educate medical students about heart defects.

Frakes and his ASU research team have developed the techniques for producing the model hearts and using advanced 3-D printing technology to make them readily available to physicians.

Frakes’ research assistant Justin Ryan, who is pursuing his doctoral degree in biomedical engineering at ASU, is crafting most of the heart models for PCH.

Ryan “has been a big part of making these models with precision and in a timely fashion that is helping to improve the care of children with heart defects,” Pophal said.

Frakes is an associate professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, two of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is also a research scientist at the Keller Center for Imaging Innovation at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.