Jul 24, 2017 | By Tess

An Argentinian woman has been given a new lease on life thanks to a 3D printed trachea implant. The woman, who could not speak or eat comfortably due to complications from peritonitis, says that she is now able to do these normal everyday activities with ease again.

The 3D printed implant, which was designed based off the patient’s anatomy and which was made from a biodegradable material, was implanted into the patient by a team of doctors from the Hospital Centro de Salud in Tucumán, Argentina. The patient, Antonia Albarracín, was the first to undergo an implantation of this kind in the South American country.

Albarracín required treatment after suffering from a ten minute long respiratory arrest. Fortunately, doctors were able to help her through the arrest, though they found that she suffered from intestinal gangrene and septicemia caused by peritonitis. After two months in respiratory therapy, the patient suffered from a serious tracheal problem. To treat this, doctors believed 3D printing was the solution.

The 3D printed trachea was reportedly implanted into the patient’s neck nearly eight months ago, and sources are now reporting that Albarracín has recovered well from the breakthrough operation. After seeing the success of the first operation, the team of doctors has already completed a similar surgical procedure for a second time and is confident that the 3D printed trachea implant can help more people.

“What we did was create a trachea with a 3D printer with a biodegradable material and we implanted it at the level of the neck,” explained surgeon Guillermo Stock. “After the implantation, the trachea was cleaned periodically because there was skin inside to cover the prosthesis and now the patient is stable.”

By reconstructing the patient’s cervical trachea using the 3D printed implant, the doctors were able to give basic speaking, eating, and normal breathing functions back to Albarracín. “This operation changed my life, I feel great happiness,” said the patient.

Fortunately for the patient, the procedure and 3D printed implant were provided for free, as the operation was performed at a public hospital. Currently, the doctors say the cost of 3D printing a reconstructed trachea and surgically implanting it are quite expensive.

Antonia Albarracín

Albarracín, who has three sons, is grateful to be able to lead a normal life again and get back to the things she loves, such as gymnastics, aerobics, and cooking for her family. With Albarracín experience marking a success with the surgery, the Argentina doctors are hopeful that their 3D printed trachea procedure will help to improve other people’s lives as well.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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