3D Printed Splint Saves Baby’s Life

Geo Beats

by Geo Beats

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A 3-D printed splint saves a baby's life.

3D printing enabled another medical miracle when doctors at the University of Michigan were able to print a much-needed device for a fatally ill baby in 2012.

The baby’s bronchus had collapsed and was blocking the airflow to his lungs. The outlook was dire and it was unlikely the child would be returning home.

University of Michigan's Dr. Glenn Green was contacted by the baby’s physician and immediately went to work on a solution.

He and his colleague got emergency clearance from the FDA and and used a 3D printer to create the computer aided design from a CT scan of the baby’s trachea.

Once the piece was implanted, the baby's lungs began to inflate and deflate. After about three years his trachea is expected to rebuild itself and the implant will have mostly dissolved.

In addition to implants, 3D printers have been successful in producing living, dimensional tissue.

Organovo, a human tissue bioprinting and research facility, believes that engineered tissues will one day be the standard therapy means for people suffering tissue damage.