3D printing technology has finally come of age and the medical benefits are just being accrued. Three babies owe their life to products made by this revolutionary 3D printing technology. The three babies were the first to receive 3D imprinted device placed in the stents of their airways.
Conventional treatment options were limited and fraught with life threatening complications. Conventional treatment required the patient to undergo prolonged hospitalization for tracheostomy along with a mechanical ventilation system. The treatment could lead to complications like cardiac and respiratory arrest.
However when the three babies were given this revolutionary treatment, there was no complications involved. The three babies aged 3 months, 16 months, and 5 months were treated with the 3D printed growth flexible implants.
The prognosis in conventional treatment methods was very slim while the use of 3D printed stents leads to a better and bright future for patients of Pediatric tracheobronchomalacia (TBM).
TBM leads to massive collapse of the airways while breathing and can precipitate life-threatening cardiopulmonary arrests. The cartilage which supports the airways could strengthen as the child grows but severe cases still requires aggressive treatment and in such conditions this method can work wonders.
Babies who suffer from TBM had to be hospitalized for tracheostomy tube placement with mechanical ventilation and the rate of respiratory arrest owing to tube occlusion is as high as 43% of pediatric tracheostomy procedures a year.
The first few months are very crucial for the survival of the babies. The stents are designed to accommodate airway growth while preventing external compression over a period of time.
The authors write, “If a child can be supported through the first 24 to 36 months of tracheobronchomalacia, airway growth generally results in a natural resolution of this disease.”
Senior author Dr. Glenn Green, associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology at C.S. Mott, says: “Before this procedure, babies with severe tracheobronchomalacia had little chance of surviving. Today, our first patient Kaiba is an active, healthy 3-year-old in preschool with a bright future. The device worked better than we could have ever imagined. We have been able to successfully replicate this procedure and have been watching patients closely to see whether the device is doing what it was intended to do. We found that this treatment continues to prove to be a promising option for children facing this life-threatening condition that has no cure.”