Medical uses of 3D printing

Medical uses of 3D printing

We’ve heard of 3D-printed replacement parts for vintage cars

As the year draws to an end, here’s one technology which will surely be the talk of the world next year. The technology is3D printing, which will continue to affect our lives in ways we haven’t thought of before.

We’ve heard of 3D-printed replacement parts for vintage cars and how the technology may be used to replicate firearms, we often don’t value the role of the technology in medical cases.

Take the case of 20-month old Kaiba. The child had difficulty breathing with his collapsed bronchus blocking the flow of air to his lungs. His parents April and Bryan Gionfriddo found hope at the University of Michigan, where they were told a new technology could help their child.

Kaiba’s parents contacted Dr Glenn Green, associate professor of paediatric otolaryngology at the University of Michigan. Soon after, a specially-designed splint was placed in Kaiba.

The splint was sewn around Kaiba’s airway to expand the bronchus and give it a skeleton to aid proper growth. Over about three years, the splint will be reabsorbed by the body, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

The splint was created directly from a CT scan of Kaiba’s trachea/bronchus, integrating an image-based computer model with laser-based 3D printing to produce the splint. Kaiba was off ventilator support 21 days after the procedure. It’s been a couple of years and Kaiba has not had breathing trouble since then.

The Belgium-based Materialise, a global leader in 3D printing, guided the team at University of Michigan with its specialised software. Likewise, 3D printing has been helping surgeons perform reconstructive surgery in certain trauma cases, medical journals report.