Nerve damage causes delayed responses as well as total loss of sensation. The traditional way of repairing nerve damage is to suture the affected nerves but this procedure often results to more risk of damage. Moreover, surgical procedures to treat nerve damage has limited design capabilities thus it can only treat a few range of injuries. The problems concerning traditional method of repairing nerve damage has led researchers to try other things. Researchers from the Sheffield University are looking into 3D printing and additive manufacturing to treat nerve damage.
Led by bioengineering professor, John Haycock, his team have built a small 3D printed guide to help direct the growth of damaged nerves so that they can repair themselves through time. Currently, this device–a microstereolithograph–has been used to treat nerve damages only in animals but Professor Haycock noted that they will test it on humans once they have perfected the technology to treat different traumatic injuries that cause nerve damage.
Specifically called Image 35Called A Nerve Guidance Conduit (NGC), this device is made up of tiny latticed tubes that serve as channels that can direct the damaged nerve ends so that both damaged ends can repair naturally.
To produce the lattice tubes, researchers used the CAD software to design the lattice. They also used laser direct writing to manufacture the tubes. They used polyethylene glycol which is a biodegradable material to create the lattice. Thus, patients only need to undergo surgery once to install the tubes to the damaged nerves. With this technology, it can definitely help a lot of people suffering from nerve damage all over the world.