3-D Printed Heart Splint Saves Baby’s Life

Today’s guest post comes from Jose Sepulveda. Jose is a photography and tech enthusiast. You can keep up with what he’s up to at Click-Whirl and on Twitter.

With all the bad press 3-D Printing has been getting the past few weeks because of the printable gun, its nice to hear about the good things the technology can bring. According to Doctors at the University of Michigan, a bioresorbable Tracheal splint has successfully been created and implanted into an infant with tracheobronchomalacia. The Splint was created with the use of a 3-D printer and made from a biopolymer called polycaprolactone. The material will slowly dissolve and be reabsorbed by the body in three years as the infant grows. Its hoped that the childs bronchial tube will be remain open on its own after it has dissolved.

“The material 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 how long this material will take to dissolve into the body,” – Dr. Scott J. Hollister, Ph.D. University of Michigan

The device was created directly from a CT scan of the infants bronchus, using an image-based computer model with laser-based 3D printing to produce the splint.

Even though we are just hearing about this splint today because of an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, the stint was placed in the infant, around its airway in February of 2012. Thankfully the infant is well and no longer has difficulty breathing. The doctors are already looking into further uses of the technology, such as building specific ear and nose structures. They have also rebuild bones in pre-clinical models.

It’s fantastic to find out all the incredible uses this technology has to offer. I for one am eager to see further use of this technology and to see what it really has to offer.

Check out the video below from the University of Michigan’s Health System’s YouTube Channel:

Sources: University of Michigan Health System, The New England Journal of Medicine

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