3-D-printed trachea splint saves baby’s life

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, May 23, 2013 12:04 EDT
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20-month-old Kaiba Gionfriddo, whose life was saved by a 3-D printed trachea splint. Screenshot via YouTube.
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A 20-month-old child’s life was saved recently thanks to a couple smart doctors equipped with a bioresorbable material and a 3-D printer, which he used to create a tube to insert in the child’s trachea that allowed him to continue breathing.

Little Kaiba Gionfriddo was born with a condition that caused his trachea to collapse, according to a video detailing the case (embedded below), released Wednesday by the University of Michigan Health System. His case was so severe that for a time his survival was in question and doctors didn’t know what to do.

In stepped Drs. Glenn Green and Scott Hollister, who took highly detailed scans of the boy’s trachea and used the 3-D model to create a tube that would fit perfectly and act as a splint to let the child’s lungs function normally. Using a material called polycaprolactone, which gradually reabsorbs into the body over about three years, they printed out the trachea splint and went into surgery, hoping for the best.

“It was amazing. As soon as the splint was put in, the lungs started going up and down for the first time and we knew he was going to be OK,” Green said in an advisory.

They expect Kaiba to make a full recovery.

This video is from the University of Michigan Health System, published Wednesday, May 22, 2013.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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