Feb 27, 2017 | By Tess

A team of doctors from the CHU hospital in Toulouse, France have successfully implanted a 3D printed custom tracheobronchial prosthesis into a patient, marking a world first for the medical community. The implant was designed and additively manufactured in partnership with Anatomik Modeling, a Toulouse-based startup that specializes in custom-made 3D implants.

In the increasingly overlapping worlds of 3D printing and healthcare, we have had the pleasure to write about many world firsts, from the first 3D printed sternum made from titanium and polymer, which we wrote about earlier today, to the 3D printed vertebrae implant that helped an Indian woman walk again, to name but a couple. Now, marking another first for medical 3D printing, CHU doctors have announced the successful implantation of a 3D printed tracheobronchial prosthesis.

The patient who received the custom 3D implant, unnamed but apparently 60 years old, first received a lung transplant at the Toulouse University Hospital two years ago. After the operation, however, the patient complained of respiratory discomfort and difficulty breathing. Upon inspection, doctors discovered the patient’s bronchus was narrowed and contracting (a condition called stenosis), and intervention was necessary.

Intervention came in the form of a custom-made silicone tracheobronchial prosthesis made with the help of 3D printing. To make the implant, Anatomik Modeling worked with CHU to model the implant based on a scan of the patient’s bronchus. From there, a mold of the 3D implant was 3D printed, which allowed for the silicone elastomer prosthesis to be cast.

CHU doctors successfully implanted the custom-made tracheobronchial prosthesis into the patient about three months ago. Not only has the patient been recovering well since the procedure, but the technology has been used to help three more patients, and will soon help two more who are currently waiting to undergo surgery.

3D printing technologies allowed the French doctors to treat the patient with a tailor-made bronchial implant, which helped to avoid potential complications often caused by ill-fitting implants and stents. While the innovative 3D implants are still in their experimental stage, Anatomik Modeling and the CHU doctors say they could be ready for commercialization by 2018.

One current challenge with the 3D printed custom stents is their cost, as the custom fitted implants are more expensive than their standardized counterparts. Despite that, clinical trials for the 3D tracheobronchial prostheses are underway.

Research surrounding the customized 3D airway stent was recently published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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