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3-D Printing Saved This Child’s Life

posted: 04/30/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Child saved by 3D printing
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3-year-old Kaiba Gionfriddo was the first patient to receive an experimental splint that was printed with a 3-D printer.
University of Michigan Health System

When Kaiba was an infant, his windpipe collapsed and he was unable to breathe. Now, researchers at Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital are using 3-D printing technology to give Kaiba and two other children another chance at life.

All three children children suffer from tracheobronchomalacia, a terminal condition that causes the windpipe to collapse and prevents regular breathing. They are the first to receive implanted bioresorable splints that were printed with a 3-D printer.

Sewn around each patient's airways, the splint functions as a skeleton that provides structure to the trachea and bronchus. The added framework prevents the windpipe from collapsing, giving the children a positive prognosis for a disease once considered untreatable. It is designed to be absorbed by the body once it has outlived its purpose.

Patients who received the splints no longer required ventilators to breathe or narcotics for comfort. Furthermore, researchers noted improvements in the functioning of their organ systems. What's more, the splints caused no recognized complications in any of the children.

"These cases broke new ground for us because we were able to use 3D printing to design a device that successfully restored patients' breathing through a procedure that had never been done before," said Dr. Glenn Green. "The device worked better than we could have ever imagined."

The results of the trial are published in a new edition of Science Translational Medicine.

Click here for more information from University of Michigan

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