3D‐Printed Coronary Plaques to Simulate High Calcification in the Coronary Arteries for Investigation of Blooming Artifacts
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The diagnostic value of coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) is significantly affected by high calcification in the coronary arteries owing to blooming artifacts limiting its accuracy in assessing the calcified plaques. This study aimed to simulate highly calcified plaques in 3D-printed coronary models. A combination of silicone + 32.8% calcium carbonate was found to produce 800 HU, representing extensive calcification. Six patient-specific coronary artery models were printed using the photosensitive polyurethane resin and a total of 22 calcified plaques with diameters ranging from 1 to 4 mm were inserted into different segments of these 3D-printed coronary models. The coronary models were scanned on a 192-slice CT scanner with 70 kV, pitch of 1.4, and slice thickness of 1 mm. Plaque attenuation was measured between 1100 and 1400 HU. Both maximum-intensity projection (MIP) and volume rendering (VR) images (wide and narrow window widths) were generated for measuring the diameters of these calcified plaques. An overestimation of plaque diameters was noticed on both MIP and VR images, with measurements on the MIP images close to those of the actual plaque sizes (<10% deviation), and a large measurement discrepancy observed on the VR images (up to 50% overestimation). This study proves the feasibility of simulating extensive calcification in coronary arteries using a 3D printing technique to develop calcified plaques and generate 3D-printed coronary models.
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