3D Printed Splint Saves Baby’s Life

3D-printed-breathing-device-2a

Here’s another heartwarming story about how 3D printers are continuing to make a real difference in the medical world. [Garrett] is just a baby whose bronchi collapse when breathing — he’s been on a ventilator for most of his life — Until now.

[Scott Hollister] is a professor of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, as well as being an associate professor of surgery at the University of Michigan. Between him and [Doctor Glen Green], an associate professor of Pediatric Otolaryngology, they have created a bioresorbable device that could save little [Garrett's] life.

By taking CT scans of [Garrett's] bronchi and trachea, they were able to create a 3D model and design a “splint” to help support the bronchi from collapsing during normal breathing. If all goes well, within 3 years, the splint will dissolve in his body and he will be able to breath normally for good. The material in question is a biopolymer called polycaprolactone, which they were actually granted emergency clearance from the FDA to use for [Garrett]. They used an EOS SLS based 3D printer.

The surgery was successful, and [Garrett] is now on the road to recovery. Stick around for a few videos showing of the printing process and surgery.

And [Garrett's] story:

[Thanks Paul!]

Comments

  1. Wow, first I’ve heard of polycaprolactone being used as a 3D printing medium. (But apparently it’s not uncommon outside the hobby 3D printing market…) I’ve got a jar of pellets on my workbench, they come in handy in a lot of odd situations when you just need to quickly form a part– temporary or otherwise –by hand or simple mold. (Or to form a quick mold, for that matter.)

  2. Waterjet says:

    1) How did they get it in and 2) How certain are the doctors that it will actually break down, at all or even quickly enough?

    • wisdomseeker says:

      It was surgery I believe… it was on NPR news a week or so ago.

    • carbohydrates says:

      1) Surgery and 2) Enough that the FDA agrees it will

      • Waterjet says:

        Open lungs up, cram in, sew lungs back up surgery?

        • SparkyGSX says:

          I think the splints actually are on the outside of the bronchia (I think that’s what those parts of the airway are called, but I am obviously not a doctor), although it’s not quite clear to me how that would prevent them from collapsing. If the splint would be on the inside, the surgery would be even more invasive, and I’d think using bioresorbable material would be very dangerous, because it would probably break into smaller fragments when degrading, which could go into the lungs.

          It’s quite amazing that they can do this on such a small and fragile child, and I think it’s great that some doctors are willing to do some unconventional things when the need arises.

          • Megol says:

            From TFA: “The splints were sewn around Garrett’s right and left bronchi to expand the airways and give it external support to aid proper growth.”
            Also shouldn’t the title be “3D printed splint potentially saves baby’s life”?
            Good article anyway.

          • Mike Szczys says:

            This is like the reinforcing sleeves you can get for a garden hose (obviously much more refined). It wraps the bronchial tubs ensuring that when he moves the tubes don’t kink.

    • More to the point, I never would’ve thought it’d be a good candidate for implants given that it has a melting point you can almost reach with your hot-water tap. (It certainly gets a bit more putty-like at the 130-degrees F I can get from my kitchen sink…water heated in the microwave will melt it real good though.)

      It’s a pretty neat material. At room temperature, it has physical properties similar to UHMWPE, right down to the slick surface. I’ve never tried machining it, but I’d bet it machines nicely…assuming it doesn’t melt, that is.

  3. bobfeg says:

    What a wonderful story :-)

  4. dave says:

    In the title, spliNt.

  5. thatguy says:

    …and “able to breathE normally”.
    The quality of writing on HaD seems to really be taking a dive recently.

  6. DainBramage1991 says:

    We live in amazing times. Not too long ago, that child would have had no hope of survival.

  7. weabove says:

    and that’s why we hack ladies and gentlemen,

    ;-)

  8. Rollyn01 says:

    All the hoopla they make about 3D printed guns and having to ban 3D printers… And here we have yet another story to show that its usefulness in was that can save lives. I wonder what they would say to themselves now.

    • twdarkflame says:

      Has anyone actually proposed a 3d printer ban though?
      I’ve seen some talk of banning the gun files from being shared (futile practically of course), but I don’t think I heard anyone seriously consider a ban of the devices.

    • Wretch says:

      Obviously we just need to ban 3D printers that can print firearms. At least ban them until printers’ firmware have restrictions to refuse to print gun parts.

      (c:

      I’m sorry, is it too late for April Fools’?

      Anyhow, would a stent-like device have also worked? If so, what are the pros and cons between that (i.e., an internal support) and this (i.e., an external support)?

  9. echodelta says:

    This combined with protein synthesis will give us the power of creation.

  10. Jan-Maarten says:

    3D printed skull used in clinic in Utrecht, the Netherlands, can you see what I am thinking? -> http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/03/dutch_hospital_gives_patient_n.php

  11. DrThrax says:

    Polycaprolactone is just polymorph, I did my biomedical engineering final year project using it to make coronary artery scaffolds. I bought mine from maplin (UK) http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/250g-polymorph-n14at

  12. Tron9000 says:

    I’m a 240lb, 6’1″ engineering, am bad tempered at times, and I can curse a blue steak that would make Bill Hick blush!

    …..this has made me cry and I’ve never been more proud to be an engineer in this age.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,386 other followers