3D printed breathing tube saves infant's life

3D printing has now shown that it can be used for really positive outcomes as well. Doctors at C.S. Mott Children’s hospital were able to 3D print an emergency airway tube that resulted in a 20-month old baby boy’s life being saved. Doctors, after imaging the boy’s faulty windpipe were able to print 100 tiny tubes and laser-stitch them together over the trachea.

The mother of the child, according to TechCrunch, said, “quite a few of the doctors said that he had a good chance of not leaving the hospital alive.” The baby boy was reported to be suffering from a severe version of tracheobronchomalacia which caused his bronchus to collapse.


A 3D generated breathing tube help saves infant's life (image credit: inhabitat/shutterstock)

A 3D generated breathing tube help saves infant's life (image credit:shutterstock via inhabitat)


With no other solution at hand, doctors were able to obtain an emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to surgically sew the 3D-printed splint on the child’s airway. Professor Dr. Glenn Green who came up with the life-saving solution said, “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.”


Green was partnered by Dr. Scott Hollister in finding the solution. Hollister, while talking about the 3D-printed splint said,” 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."

With most of the news about 3D printers revolving around the design and application of lethal, undetectable firearms, the application of 3D printing in a positive sphere is a welcome change. One can now hope that 3D printers will see more positive applications in a variety of other fields.

Published Date: May 24, 2013 11:45 am | Updated Date: May 24, 2013 11:45 am