Personalised 3D printed implants saved the lives of three infants suffering from tracheobronchomalacia (TBM), a condition leading to the collapse of airways.
The congenital form of the rare decease typically develops during infancy, but mostly children outgrow the condition. In severe cases, however, it can become life-threatening due to airway collapse during breathing.
In a study recently published in the Science Translational Medicine Journal, researchers at the University of Michigan describe how a 3D printed implant can can cure the decease and save the infants’ lives.
Based on CT scan data, a 3D model of the patient’s airways is created, that serves then as a base for the 3D design of the custom splint. The splints, 3D printed via selective laser sintering technology, are made out of polycaprolactone, a biodegradable polyester that resorbs over time.
Placed on the outside of the airway, the splints helps to hold them open and therefor allow the patients to breath normally. Further, due to the design and material that becomes more flexible over time, the splints expand as the children develop and finally resorb, so no additional surgery for removal is required.
All three surgeries performed in the study were a success. Scan data revealed that their airways have developed properly and remain open.
In the following video Dr. Glenn Green, co-author and paediatrician at the University of Michigan Hospital, talks about this live-safing method:
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