On April 18th JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) will publish a new video article by Dr. Paul A Iaizzo demonstrating the anatomical reconstruction of an active human heart. The research uses contrast-computed tomography (CT) to allow in-depth 3-D computer modeling of hearts that can be used for prolonged archiving.
Computational technology, when combined with advanced imaging techniques like CT, gives researchers extensive insight to the structure and function of human organs. While often these techniques may be applied to modeling structural elements like a vertebrate's skeletal system, applying these imaging capabilities to cardiac tissue can create maps of an individual heart's venous system and musculature. In JoVE's new video article, surgeons and biomedical engineers from the University of Minnesota use these new technologies to create a digital library of human heart specimens.
Dr. Iaizzo's laboratory is able to collect human heart specimens from organ donors that were not deemed viable for transplant because the donor had been expired for too long, had a congenital heart defect, or the donor organ did not match a patient's immediate need. In these cases, Dr. Iaizzo and his colleagues around the world gain access to these organs for medical research and indexing. "We can look at a lot of the variations in heart anatomy [and] because everybody's heart is unique we can really understand variations and how the heart changes with disease."