Med Device Monday: 3D Printed Tracheal Splint

Last week we talked about personalized medicine in the form of 3D printed casts. This week we're talking about personalized medicine in the form of 3D printed tracheal splints! 

As you'll know if you've looked around here before, I'm personally interested in and drawn to devices that find innovative ways to customize medicine; there's evidence that FDA is very interested, too. Pages 8 and 9 of this FDA special topic report discuss 3D printing and its benefits in this arena, and highlights trach splints specifically. 

An interesting nugget from the document regarding personalized medicine:

And regarding tracheobronchomalacia and the trach splint specifically:

There's a lot to unpack there. Take a moment to fully absorb it if need be, because I certainly needed to. These splints are printed specifically for each patient, save lives, help the body heal, and then many are absorbed into the body when their job is complete. Truly incredible.

These are a very new device, which, like so many great devices enabled by recent technology, came about because an innovative doctor figured out a way to fill the need of one of his patients–and in doing so, saved his life. Per this article in from the 3D Printing Industry, "Dr. Glenn Green, a paediatric otolaryngologist at CS Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, developed the splint in conjunction with Dr. Scott Hollister, professor of biomedical engineering and lead researcher at the University of Michigan, as a means of supporting the growth of the trachea in patients with the congenital breathing condition [tracheobronchomalacia], as a means of supporting the growth of the trachea in patients with the congenital breathing condition. Using a patient's own MRI or CT scans, the doctors are able to 3D print a patient-specific splint that supports the trachea, as it expands and functions, allowing the children to breathe normally and, eventually, on their own. Over the course of several years, the implant is almost entirely absorbed into the body."

In the video below, Dr. Green talks about why he helped push for and get this device approved: "...it's been exciting to watch because these children went from a situation where it looks like their parents would have to be preparing for their funerals and instead they're watching their children grow and develop."

More from Mott Children's here.