(415) 353-2008

Imagine a heart the size of a walnut, its arteries and veins as slender as spaghetti. The surrounding nerves and lymphatic vessels are the width of a few strands of hair and as fragile as wet tissue paper.

To repair the smallest hearts, surgeons must navigate this delicate and complex minefield. What's more, because anatomy varies from person to person, no two surgeries are exactly the same – even among patients with the same condition. To plan a surgery, therefore, surgeons want to learn as much as possible about the patient's unique anatomy before setting foot in the operating room.

At the Pediatric Heart Center 3D+ Program, we're harnessing the power of 3D technology to help surgeons do just that. With medical-grade 3D printing equipment and images taken with CT, MRI and ultrasound, we're able to produce accurate, exquisitely detailed models of patients' hearts. Surgeons can hold an exact replica in their hands before surgery, examining every aspect of the particular heart’s structure in order to determine the best approach to repairing it. They can even practice procedures in advance, using models printed with flexible material that can be cut and sewn like human tissue. Or they may use virtual reality and other advanced visualization technologies to see the patient's anatomy in three dimensions while planning the surgery.

UCSF is one of the few hospitals in the U.S. to offer this technology to our surgeons and patients. We also work with providers at other institutions to produce 3D models for their patients.

Although 3D applications are relatively new in medicine, experts believe the specific information they offer may benefit patients in several ways. These include:

  • Lower risk of certain errors during surgery
  • Less likely to need repeat surgeries
  • Shorter procedure times
  • Faster recoveries

These 3D models are also invaluable in helping families understand their child's heart condition and treatment options. In addition, they're used in biomedical research and to train future specialists in congenital heart disease.

The Pediatric Heart Center 3D+ Program is part of the UCSF Center for Advanced 3D+ Technologies, which was founded in 2018 by doctors from the Pediatric Heart Center and the orthopedics and radiology departments. The team includes physicians, a dedicated biomedical engineer and image processing experts.

Support Our Program

The 3D+ Program was established through a generous contribution from an anonymous donor. Our services aren't reimbursed by insurance at this time, and we need your support to continue providing lifesaving care to kids. To learn more and make a donation, please visit UCSF: The Campaign, click the "Have a Heart" button and type "PHC 3D+ Program" in the "Other Designation" field.

Doctor referral required

Our locations (1)

    Awards & recognition

    • Ranked among the nation's best in 10 specialties

    • One of the nation's best in cardiology & heart surgery

    Support services

    Child Life Services

    Activity rooms, pet therapy and more to help kids feel at home.

    Child Life

    Certified child life specialists ease the stress and anxiety of childhood illness through therapeutic play, schooling and family-focused support.

    Family Amenities

    Family-friendly amenities help you relax and take care of yourself while staying close to your child. We offer lounges, kitchens, showers, breastfeeding rooms and more.

    social-services-2x

    Social Services

    Social workers ease the effect of illness, injury and hospitalization on your family with counseling and assistance to help you navigate the challenges.

    activity-rooms-2x

    Activity Rooms

    Activity rooms offer a relaxed environment for children of all ages. Features include a playroom, digital arts studio and teen lounge. Find out more.

    art-therapy-program-2x

    Art Therapy

    Art therapy helps kids and families express themselves, making it easier to cope with pediatric health issues. Group and bedside services are available.

    music-program-2x

    Music Therapy Program

    Board-certified music therapists help kids cope with illness and the feelings that come with it. Find out about group activities and bedside therapy.

    school-program-2x

    School Program

    Our schoolroom services and individual learning programs help children hospitalized at UCSF continue their education and get ready to return to school.

    school-re-entry-program-2x

    School Re-Entry Program

    After hospitalization, we help kids return to school by educating staff and students about their needs and recommending needed accommodations. Read more.

    individual-playtime-and-tutoring-2x

    Individual Playtime & Instruction

    If your child can't be around other kids for medical reasons, you can sign up for private sessions in our activity and school rooms. Find out how.

    interpreters-2x

    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Family Resource Center

    We help families cope with the challenges of childhood illness and hospitalization in a relaxing environment where parents can get a much-needed break.

    family-support-program-2x

    Parent Support Program

    Weekly activities, including knitting, scrapbooking, chair massage and more, help family caregivers get a much-needed break. Find out more.

    patient-relations-2x

    Patient Relations

    Patient relations reps and nursing supervisors are here to answer questions and address concerns. Learn about your rights, how to reach us and more.

    spiritual-care-2x

    Spiritual Care

    Chaplains help UCSF patients, families and staff cope with the spiritual and emotional challenges of childhood illness. Learn more.

    international-services-2x

    International Services

    If you're coming to UCSF from outside the U.S., we coordinate your child's appointments and provide other helpful services. Here's how to get started.

    Our stories

    Heart Matter: Dr. Shafkat Anwar

    How 3D tech is allowing doctors to take 'practice swings' before heart operations

    Stress-free visits

    Accommodations. Admissions. Procedure prep. Get the info you need for smoother hospital stays.

    Prepare for your child's stay

    Share