“3D Print” saved a baby's life
When a baby's trachea collapsed to the point that he started turning blue, innovative doctors created a customized airway with a 3D printer that saved this baby’s life!
We know, we know! You already know 3D printing can build guns, gears, figurines and authentic Roman sculptures.
Now, it is being used to build implants that are perfectly customized to fit into the human body, even the narrow and intricate structure of the trachea.
Kaiba’s trachea would collapse every day at random intervals, blocking his breathing completely. This made him a permanent resident of the hospital.
In attempt to help him, Kaiba’s doctors enlisted the help of UofM’s associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology Glenn Green; and professor of biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering and surgery, Scott Hollister.
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Long term impact
One of Kaiba’s doctors described his innovative work as: “A custom-designed and custom-fabricated re-absorbable airway splint, similar to the hose of a vacuum cleaner, provides resistance against (tracheal) collapse while simultaneously allowing flexion, extension, and expansion with growth.”
To make Kaiba’s custom-designed trachea, a CT scan was used as the template for the 3D printed splint, using a material called polycaprolactone. This will biodegrade and be absorbed by Kaiba’s body after three years. And by that time, his trachea would have strengthened itself enough to not need the splint any longer. How cool is that?!
The surgery to implant the splint took place in February 2012. Three weeks after that, Kaiba was taken off the ventilator, and his happy smile and fully oxygenated, flushed skin show he is enjoying breathing on his own again!
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