Almost two years ago, 3DPI had the opportunity to report on a life-changing procedure in which an infant named Kaiba got a initially of its kind, 3D printed tracheal splint to treat his tracheobronchomalacia. Previously, this type of condition may ultimately lead to death, with the tracheas of these children collapsing due to weak cartilage. With the pioneering work of the University of Michigan and CS Mott Children’s Hospital, yet, a slowly increasing number of patients facing this diagnosis have gone on to survive. The latest is an adolescent girl who is the fifth man to obtain a 3D printed tracheal splint, thanks to the Michigan team.
Dr. Glenn Green, a paediatric otolaryngologist at CS Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, created the splint in conjunction with Dr. Scott Hollister, professor of biomedical engineering and lead researcher at the University of Michigan, as a means of supporting the growth of the trachea in patients with the congenital breathing condition. Employing a patient’s own MRI or CT scans, the doctors are able-bodied to 3D print a patient-specific splint which supports the trachea, as it expands and functions, enabling the children to breathe normally and, some day, on their own. Over the course of several years, the implant is approximately entirely absorbed into the body.
The process was initially idea up by Dr. Hollister in his research on the condition, which is estimated to affect one in each 2,000 children globally. “When I started createing my own porous scaffolds for anatomic reconstruction, I accomplished which 3D-printing may be perfect for creating the harsh geometries I had in mind,” Dr. Hollister recalls. “It is now certainly automatic to generate an individualized splint create and print it; the whole process just takes of two days now instead of three to five.”
A new photo of Kaiba. Courtesy of EOS.
SLS process developer EOS, and its AM materials, have been key for the doctors’ work. The University of Michigan purchased an EOS FORMIGA P 100 in 2006 for use in research around biomaterials and 3D printed scaffolds. And Polycaprolactone (PCL) was determined to be the most material for tracheal splints, due to its long resorption time and its ductility. This allows for the implants to survive in the body for at very least two years and, if it does fail, it does not create any pieces which may puncture surrounding tissue. “I chose EOS for the reason we were looking for a process which was flexible and allowed us to alter parameter settings such as laser power, speed, powder bed temperature and so on, which we requireed to do to customise our creates,” Dr. Hollister says. “Also, for the reason biomaterials can be expensive and implants and scaffolds are typically not so big, we wanted a additional limited create volume which didn’t use a lot of material. The FORMIGA P 100 fitted the bill for both of these requirements.
EOS actually gave us access to software patches to enable-bodied us to alter the range of parameters of the machine to most process the PCL material.”
Kaiba is now approximately four years old and his implant has been approximately entirely reabsorbed into his body, with his mature trachea bringing over the role of the splint. Whilst Dr. Green has tackled the use of 3D printed tracheal splints, Dr. Hollister’s team has expanded research into other areas, working to 3D print craniofacial, spine, long bone, ear, and nose scaffolds and implants for much like applications. “I see a time soon, most likely inside the upcoming five years, when most hospitals and medical centres can print their own devices specifically for their own patients and not require to get them off the shelf,” Dr. Hollister explains. “If we can expand the number of biomaterials utilized in additive making, we can tackle a immense number of problems in all fields of reconstructive surgery and manufacture huge strides for the benefit of patients.”