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12th August 2021

World’s Smallest 3D-Printed Catheter To Identify Heart Attack Patients

Dr Jiawen Li micro catheter for high risk heart attack patients

In an exciting research update, the world’s smallest 3D-printed imaging catheter is being developed to identify people at high risk of a heart attack before they experience any life-threatening symptoms.

Dr Jiawen Li from the University of Adelaide has teamed up with cardiologists Associate Professor Peter Psaltis and Dr Johan Verjans, vascular surgeon Prof Robert Fitridge from the University and Royal Adelaide Hospital, and engineers to create the micro-catheter using innovative 3D printing technology to enable the high quality imaging of narrow arteries.

Now, thanks to Australian Heart Researcher’s (AHR) donor community and The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF) Group*, the team aims to further develop the equipment in order to eventually incorporate it into standard clinical care. If successful, it will help the 20 million heart disease patients worldwide which present to emergency departments each year.

“This device holds great promise for improving health outcomes and helping cardiologists determine the most efficient treatment plans for those at risk of coronary artery disease,” Dr Li said.

“The catheter has been developed to detect cholesterol crystals which accumulate in the fatty plaques that form in heart arteries, making them more inflamed and likely to cause blockages that lead to heart attacks.

“This generous support will help us deliver critical milestones to take the technology from ‘bench to bedside’ while quantifying the diagnostic accuracy of the device.”

A/Prof Psaltis said there was a huge need to improve diagnostic tools to provide safe and high-quality imaging of narrow arteries.

“The accurate diagnosis of high-risk coronary plaques before they cause life-threatening heart attacks has been a challenge for cardiologists, as our current diagnostic tools still have limitations,” he said.

“If proven to be successful, cardiologists will be able to incorporate the microcatheter into standard procedures to help optimise treatment plans and improve quality of life for our patients.”

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