3D printing can save lives

Kaiba, a kid saved by 3D printing stents for sustaining the trachea. Credit: University of Michigan Health System

3D printing allows for accurate creation of objects that would close to impossible to create in other ways. 
Doctors at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital have used 3D printing to save three children from tracheobronchomalacia, a condition that makes breathing impossible because the airways leading to the lungs collapse blocking air flow. This condition appears in the very first months of a baby life and has always been fatal. New technology can force ventilation but this requires contnuous hospitalisation and cannot restore normal life.

The doctor have scanned the windpipes of the three children using a CT scan and a computer to drive a 3D printer to reproduce with accuracy their windpipes. Then, still using 3D printing they have created splints and implanted them to keep the airways open. The material used for the splint is re-assorbed over time and through this process the trachea and bronchi strengthen.

The splint implant was done in 2013 and now after two years the doctors report the success. The three children have grown up like any other children and this is probably the best application I have seen so far for 3D printing! Take a look at the clip and I am sure you will agree with me.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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