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    Doctors and nurses at a public hospital are being trained to conduct valve- replacement surgery using a 3D-printed simulation model in a first for Asia.

    The Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation simulation model was developed by Polytechnic University and Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

    The minimally invasive surgical procedure repairs the heart valve without removing the old, damaged valve.

    Since January, 18 doctors and nine nurses have been attending a transcatheter cardiac intervention training course using the simulation model.

    Hospital Authority chairman John Leong Chi-yan said: “The TAVI simulation model is a made-in-Hong Kong technology that benefits our patients and helps train our doctors.

    “PolyU is one of the pioneers in developing 3D-printing technology on health care, while Queen Elizabeth simulation training experts and cardiologists have put in a lot of effort and made so much contributions over the years in training doctors to gain ultra-high operative skills before they conduct complicated surgical procedures.”

    Michael Lee Kang-yin, a consultant for the structural heart team at Queen Elizabeth, said the simulation model is very similar to real surgery as doctors can prepare a 1:1 3D-printed blood vessel and aortic valve specific to each patient.

    The simulation model also has a rotatable built-in camera, a screen for real- time black-and-white images, fluid flow and temperature to imitate human circulation, and a flowing circuit with adjustable rates and pressure. The valve in the model is detachable and doctors can reuse the simulation model to practice.

    “We can let each doctor and nurse in the training course to practice the operation at least once to familiarize themselves with the surgery,” Lee said. “It can also reduce the operation risk since doctors can better prepare for difficult cases.”

    Both PolyU and Queen Elizabeth are hoping the technology can be applied to other clinical procedures and improve the quality of health-care service

    PolyU also launched the HK$60 million University Research Facility in 3D Printing yesterday.

    It is the first 3D-printing facility among higher education institutions in Hong Kong, with more than 50 sets of 3D printers for different functions and materials.

    The dean of PolyU’s Faculty of Engineering, Man Hau-chung, said the center can help students bring new ideas to life.

    An example is Yummy Lin Yang- min, a PhD student in biomedical engineering, who used 3D printing to create a brace for scoliosis sufferers.

    She said the brace is lighter and thinner than conventional ones, and the technology is also more environmentally friendly.