Pediatric tracheobronchomalacia or TBM has so far been a battle for life for the infant patients and their families. However, the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children Hospital has recently released the news that three young boys who benefited from a new treatment based on 3D printing are the stars of a groundbreaking technology, yielding successful results.
Typically, patients suffering from TBM display weak tracheas which are subjected to collapsing when the air is funneled to the lungs. Usually, the risks associated with the collapse are cardiopulmonary arrests and premature deaths. Also, until now, the usual treatment pathway has been to subject the patients to tracheostomies, which meant attaching them to ventilators in order to keep their lungs going and the air funneling in the respiratory system.
The three young patients, Ian, Kaiba and Garrett have been saved by the Michigan medical team with the use of 3D printed devices that allow to successfully stent the trachea in such a way that the support keeps up with the children’s growth.
Kaiba received the treatment at only 3 months old, while Ian and Garrett underwent the same implant at 5 month-old, respectively 16-month-old. The Science Transnational Medicine journal published the results of the follow-up on the three young patients and concluded that the 3D printed bioresorbable splints have shown great and promising results.
Although TBM is a rare medical condition that affects approximately 1 in 2,200 births, senior author of the study, Dr. Glenn Green stated that most times it is wrongly diagnosed as treatment-resistant asthma. But for the wrong diagnose, the severe cases are quite rare and children who are medically supported through their first 24 to 36 months usually overcome the condition.
Under these conditions, the 3D printed splints are an amazing possible new treatment and hope for life. Considering the complications of conventional treatment and their increased health risks, the benefits of the new 3D printed splints are multiple.
Firstly, they are an image based computer design. Secondly, this image based design is customized to adapt to each patient’s anatomic parameters. Thus, the inner diameter, the length and the wall thickness of the splint are personalized. The number and the spacing of the suture holes are also personalized. All the splints are designed as an open cylinder that allows the expansion of the trachea radius. Last, but not least, the splints are made of a polymer that harmlessly absorbs into the body at a rate that allows the full supporting of the growing cartilage.
Although the results of the new technology have been praised and considered a miracle, the treatment is not yet approved. The Michigan research team stated that the even though they obtained the approval of the US FDA, the 3D printed treatment must first undergo a clinical trial.
Image Source: sciencetimes.com