The lives of three babies were saved after they were treated of a life-threatening disease by a 3D printed windpipe splints which helps them to breathe, a report reveals. The illness causes their windpipes to fail and can stop air from getting inside thir bodies.
Unlike most 3D implants, the device has been adapted for each patient. The gadgets were produced from a material that modified its shape as the children grew older, according to a study published in Science Transnational Medicine.
As the study focused on very few children, it does not show that it will be 100% efficient in every case. However, the research reveals the splints could be an option for a disease that has no cure, scientists from CS Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan said. One in 2,000 children suffer from tracheobronchomalacia – a weakening and collapse of the trachea, or windpipe, which usually allows air into the lungs.
Children with the most serious form have very small chances of surviving, even though they reach the age of 3, when their windpipes can be strong enough to allow them to breathe normally. Kaiba Gionfriddo endured the procedure when he was only 3 months old. He needed intensive care because his body was in critical condition and it was not receiving enough oxygen.
Experts requested emergency approval to use the gadget as a last resort in his case. Senior author Dr. Glenn Green, associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology at C.S. Mott, explained it was a ground-breaking case.
Kaiba is now an active, healthy three-year old, researchers said. Now, the splint shows signs of dissolving away as planned. Doctors mentioned that his windpipe seems to be strong enough for him to breathe independently. April Gionfriddo, Kaiba’s mom, said, “The first time he was hospitalized, doctors told us he may not make it out. It was scary knowing he was the first child to ever have this procedure, but it was our only choice and it saved his life”.
The scientists have now performed the surgery on two other children, and they are both responding well to the treatment, although one still relies on a machine to help his breathing, after certain problems the splint could not be resolved. “The problem represents some formidable difficulties. You have to construct something that can cope with growth and coughing and sneezing. And they seem to have done this – it is very exciting,” said professor Green.
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