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Doctors print implant using 3D printer to save baby’s life

Scientists at the University of Michigan recently designed and printed a device that helped restore a baby’s ability breathe using a customized 3D printer.

Kaiba Giofriddo had a rare case of severe tracheobronchomalacia—a condition that causes tracheal collapse—and doctors were unsure of whether or not the baby could even leave the hospital alive.  The situation seemed dire, but thanks to the innovativeness of Doctor Glenn Green, MD, and his colleague Scott Hollister, Ph.D., Kaiba made it out of the hospital alive and his trachea is expected to grow into a healthy state.

Using customized 3D printing equipment and CT scans of Kaiba’s trachea, Green and his colleague designed a bioresorbable device—a trachea splint—that was implanted around the baby’s airway to expand the bronchus and serve as a skeleton to help Kaiba’s breathing mechanisms develop correctly.

“The material (polycaprolactone) 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 long this material will take to dissolve in the body,” according to Hollister.

Twenty-one days after the splint was implanted into Kaiba, he was successfully weaned from the ventilator, and is now currently in a healthy state living with his family in Ohio. 

“He has not had another episode of turning blue,” said Kaiba’s relieved mother, April Giofriddo.  “We are so thankful that something could be done for him.  It means the world to us.”

Kaiba’s life-saving 3D-printed implant is just another example of how 3D printers (commercial and personal) are quickly changing the way we utilize technology to manufacture what’s desired on demand.  In the health field there are certainly more barriers to clear, such as an FDA approval, before a device like Kaiba’s splint can be implanted.  However, 3D-printers made for the masses have already offered people the ability to print out customized parts for a gadget and even parts for buildings.

Source: University of Michigan

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