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Hoping to reduce the dangers of high-risk heart valve procedures, more doctors are relying upon 3-D printing to create models of hearts identical in shape and size to the hearts of their patients.

And a chorus of cardiologists believes 3-D models, used to better plan for heart valve replacements, have made tricky procedures faster and safer — freeing hospitals to accept patients who were rejected for open-heart surgery and left with nowhere else to turn. They’re calling for more medical institutions and, eventually, insurers to get on board with a practice found at a small but growing number of hospitals, including ones in Texas, Michigan, and Maryland.


“Most people would’ve said what we do was improbable or impossible,” said Dr. Huie Lin, an interventional cardiologist at Houston Methodist Hospital. “Now we can show a manageable reduction of risk from 3-D printing. This lends hope to people, especially ones born with heart defects, who’ve been told they don’t have any hope.”

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