(HealthDay News) – A customized bioresorbable tracheal splint manufactured with the use of a three-dimensional printer has been successfully implanted into an infant with localized tracheobronchomalacia, according to a letter published in the May 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

David A. Zopf, MD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues describe a case of implantation of a bioresorbable tracheal splint, customized for an infant with localized tracheobronchomalacia, which was manufactured from polycaprolactone with the use of a three-dimensional printer.

The authors note that the patient was born at 35 weeks’ gestation and appeared to be in normal health, but by age 6 weeks had chest-wall retractions and difficulty breathing. Endotracheal intubation was required to sustain ventilation by age 2 months. A custom-designed and custom-fabricated resorbable airway splint was manufactured. Sutures were placed around the malacic left bronchus circumference and tied through interstices of the splint. Seven days after placement of the splint, weaning from mechanical ventilation was started, and ventilator support was discontinued entirely 21 days after the procedure. Imaging and endoscopy performed a year after surgery showed a patent left mainstem bronchus. No splint-related problems have been reported.

“This case shows that high-resolution imaging, computer-aided design, and biomaterial three-dimensional printing together can facilitate the creation of implantable devices for conditions that are anatomically specific for a given patient,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed a patent pending on a “porous bidirectional bellowed tracheal reconstruction device.”

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