Three small children suffering from tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) have become the first patients in the world to benefit from 3D-printed devices which enable them to live a normal life.
TBM is the most often met congenital anomaly of the central airway. This disease involves an excessive collapse of the airway during breathing which can trigger very dangerous cardiopulmonary arrests such as halted heart and breathing. The cartilage which supports the airway can become stronger as children suffering from this condition grown up. However there are severe cases in which TBM requires aggressive treatment which exposes the children to imminent risk of death.
The conventional therapies used to treat this disease can cause life-threatening complications. Children with this condition need tracheostomy tube placement which is performed using mechanical ventilation. This involves a prolonged hospitalization period and exposes the children to cardiac and respiratory arrest. The rate of respiratory arrests caused by tube occlusion reaches 43% a year.
Fortunately researchers at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor (University of Michigan) have developed a 3D-printed device which can save the children’s lives. The device does not cause any complications. The treated children were Kaiba, who was the first one to receive the new treatment three years ago, at only three months, 16-month-old Garrett and 5-month-year old Ian.
The three babies were all inserted a stent. The technology is designed to accommodate the airway growth and at the same time it prevents external compression before bioresorpion for a period of time. The device deals with the problem of radial expansion of the airway in the critical period of growth. If the patients receive support through the first 24 to 36 month of TBM the growth of the airway will generate a natural resolution of the disease.
Dr. Glenn Green of C.S. Mott declared that the results of this new technology were better than they expected. The scientists successfully managed to replicate the procedure and after closely observing the patients they noticed that the device functioned properly. Dr. Green also added that the treatment proved to be a promising alternative for children who suffer from this life-threatening condition.
Using this device means that there would be no need to use ventilators and narcotic, sedating and paralytic drugs. The researchers received immediate approval from the FDA (the US Food and Drug Administration).
Dr. Green remarked:
“The potential of 3D-printed medical devices to improve outcomes for patients is clear, but we need more data to implement this procedure in medical practice.”