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Baby’s Bronchi and Trachea, Repaired Through 3D Printing

Paige Anne Carter


blog-0810823001412446037.jpgGarrett Peterson is an 18-month old baby who has never been to his home because of a medical condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot with a missing pulmonary valve. This condition places a great deal of pressure on the baby’s airways. And worse is, the condition led to the development of tracheobronchomalacia which is the softening of the bronchi and trachea thereby causing his airways to become tiny slits. With this condition, baby Garrett has lived all his life attached to a ventilator in a hospital bed. Even though baby Garrett was provided with maximum ventilator pressure levels, he showed no signs of improvement; thus, leading to the decision to put him in an induced coma so that the vent won’t work against his declining health.

Through the efforts of Dr. Scott Hollister and Dr. Glenn Green of the University of Michigan, who were given clearance by the FDA to create and plant a bioprinted tracheal splint that’s made of polycaprolactone. The created splint was customized to fit baby Garrett’s bronchi with the help of a CT scan of his bronchi and trachea.

The surgery was done by a Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgeon of the C.S. Mott, Dr. Richard G. Ohye and was assisted by Dr. Green. They performed the surgery by attaching two implants on two places of the baby’s airway. This will lend support to expand the baby’s airways and further support proper growth. Splints were also attached to the baby’s right and left bronchi.

With the success of the operation, the prognosis is good and baby Garrett is now able to ventilate both lungs at a lesser vent pressure. The bioprinted splints implanted were estimated to be reabsorbed by the body within three years’ time. Now Garrett Peterson can go home.

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I listened to Scott Hollister talk about his early work with these 3D printable splints at the Mimics Innovation Conference in Minneapolis last summer. It was pretty amazing stuff and will only get better with time.

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