May.23, 2013

A baby's life has been saved by using a device to restore his breathing created by a 3D printer.

Kaiba Gionfriddo, a six-week-old baby collapsed and turned blue when the family was at a restaurant. In the following months Kaiba continued to stop breathing on a regular basis and required resuscitation daily, his collapsed bronchus blocking the crucial flow of air to his lungs. The parents April and Bryan Gionfriddo watched helplessly. ""Quite a few doctors said he had a good chance of not leaving the hospital alive," says April Gionfriddo. "At that point, we were desperate. Anything that would work, we would take it and run with it."

Kaiba had been born with tracheobronchomalacia, which occurs when the airways collapse during breathing or coughing. Most affected children grow out of it by the age of three, but severe cases, like Kaiba's, are about 10 percent of that number and it can cause death.

The desperate parents found hope at the University of Michigan, where a new, bioresorbable device that could help Kaiba was under development.

Glenn Green, M.D., associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology at the University of Michigan and his colleague, Scott Hollister, a biomedical engineer, went right into action, obtaining emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to create and implant a tracheal splint for Kaiba made from a biopolymer called polycaprolactone.

Based on the CT scan of Kaiba's trachea/bronchus, Green and Hollister created the device using 3D biomaterial printing. On February 9, 2012, the specially-designed splint was placed in Kaiba at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. 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.

(Credit: Image courtesy of University of Michigan Health System)

"It was amazing. As soon as the splint was put in, the lungs started going up and down for the first time and we knew he was going to be OK," says Green.

Kaiba was off ventilator support 21 days after the procedure, and has not had breathing trouble since then.

"The material we used is a nice choice for this. It takes about two to three years for the trachea to remodel and grow into a healthy state, and that's about how long this material will take to dissolve into the body," says Hollister.

"Kaiba's case is definitely the highlight of my career so far. To actually build something that a surgeon can use to save a person's life? It's a tremendous feeling."

"Severe tracheobronchomalacia has been a condition that has bothered me for years," says Green. "I've seen children die from it. To see this device work, it's a major accomplishment and offers hope for these children."

Kaiba is doing well and he and his family, including an older brother and sister, live in Ohio.

"He has not had another episode of turning blue," says April, Kaiba's mother. "We are so thankful that something could be done for him. It means the world to us."

Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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alvaro wrote at 5/23/2013 8:01:32 PM:

pretty amazing!. A lot of lifes will be save congratulations Dr. Green and Dr. Hollister.

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