Research ArticleBioengineering

Mitigation of tracheobronchomalacia with 3D-printed personalized medical devices in pediatric patients

Science Translational Medicine  29 Apr 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 285, pp. 285ra64
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3010825

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Abstract

Three-dimensional (3D) printing offers the potential for rapid customization of medical devices. The advent of 3D-printable biomaterials has created the potential for device control in the fourth dimension: 3D-printed objects that exhibit a designed shape change under tissue growth and resorption conditions over time. Tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) is a condition of excessive collapse of the airways during respiration that can lead to life-threatening cardiopulmonary arrests. We demonstrate the successful application of 3D printing technology to produce a personalized medical device for treatment of TBM, designed to accommodate airway growth while preventing external compression over a predetermined time period before bioresorption. We implanted patient-specific 3D-printed external airway splints in three infants with severe TBM. At the time of publication, these infants no longer exhibited life-threatening airway disease and had demonstrated resolution of both pulmonary and extrapulmonary complications of their TBM. Long-term data show continued growth of the primary airways. This process has broad application for medical manufacturing of patient-specific 3D-printed devices that adjust to tissue growth through designed mechanical and degradation behaviors over time.

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