3D printing has once again improved, dare I say saved someone’s life. Recent articles have highlighted the 3D printed creation of a facial prosthesis and even a prototype printed ear and now, this impressive technology has been wonderfully introduced to the respiratory field. Kaiba Gionfriddo, an infant who was born with a terrible respiratory condition known as tracheobronchomalacia is now able to breathe easy and without need of the once life-granting bronchial ventilator he was shackled to. Tracheobronchomalacia is a horrible affliction that manifests with dynamic airway collapse and respiratory insufficiency and to add to the awfulness, is also very difficult to treat. This was an enormous producer of grief for Kaiba’s parents. That is, until a cadre of researchers from the University of Michigan suggested the very possible application of a 3D printed tracheal splint. This splint was created using data obtained from CT scans and enabled them to precisely create an accurate 3D model of his delicate and tiny airways. It was then printed using a biopolymer called polycaprolactone which after a few years, would be completely absorbed by his body. Just 21 days after the placement of the airway splint,  Kaiba is now completely free from the ventilator support system he was inextricably bound to. Dr. Scott Hollister, the professor of biomedical engineering behind the 3D printed implant explains how happy his team is with the results of their work :

The material we used is a nice choice for this. It takes about two to three years for the trachea to remodel and grow into a healthy state, and that’s about how long this material will take to dissolve into the body. Kaiba’s case is definitely the highlight of my career so far. To actually build something that a surgeon can use to save a person’s life? It’s a tremendous feeling.

Tracheobronchomalacia, being a condition known to dangerously afflict 1 in every 22, 000 babies is staggering. It’s good to know we now have a way to combat it with wonderful results. Read a more in-depth analysis about this delightful device here.

Source : Gizmodo.com


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Category: Technology