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​Alison Marsden: Computer models could transform cardiovascular surgery

Deeper mathematical understanding of the heart and greater computing power have joined forces to reshape possibilities in pediatric heart surgery.

Illustration of a human heart

What if surgeons could simulate complex heart surgeries on a computer before getting to the operating room? | iStock/Jolygon

Imagine being born with just half a heart. 

Alison Marsden does, pretty much every day. She is an associate professor of pediatrics specializing in cardiology and also of bioengineering. She works with children born with such dire defects.

Fortunately for those kids, Marsden is also an expert in computational modeling of cardiovascular system and developer of SimVascular, software that helps surgeons simulate surgeries on the computer without risk to living patients. The software provides researchers and surgeons a way to propose novel surgical procedures and then simulate the resulting blood flow patterns in order to better understand the potential for a successful outcome.

Join host Russ Altman and Alison Marsden for an exploration of the many ways computer simulations are making heart surgery more effective and more personal than ever before.

You can listen to the Future of Everything on Sirius XM Insight Channel 121iTunesSoundCloud and Stanford Engineering Magazine.