By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Patients with irregular heart beats are getting help from 3-D printers.

These 3-D models of the heart are allowing doctors to workout in advance the details needed for implantation of a device to protect patients with irregular heart rhythms from suffering a stroke.

Dr. Gregg Pressman, Associate Director of the Echocardiography Lab at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia says the copies keep patients safer.

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“Any time you put a patient under anesthesia and on a ventilator there’s potential for complications, if we know ahead of time exactly what size device to place and exactly where to place it we can reduce the amount of time the procedure takes,” he said.

Before using the 3-d printers, doctors would often take precious time making those changes.

“Virtually all cases where we printed the appendage we put the device in with one shot,” he said. “Before we were printing there would be multiple instances where we would have to recapture the device and redeploy it and take it out altogether and put in a new device.”

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