On Aug. 17, 2018, a team of surgeons at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta used three custom-made splints, which biomedical engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology helped create using an innovative and experimental 3D-printing technology. The patient who received the groundbreaking surgery is a 7-month-old boy battling both congenital heart disease and tracheo-bronchomalacia, a condition that causes severe life-threatening airway obstruction. During the patient’s six-month inpatient stay in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s, he experienced frequent episodes of airway collapse that could not be corrected by typical surgery protocols. The clinical team proposed surgically inserting an experimental 3D-printed tracheal splint, which is a novel device still in development, to open his airways and expand the trachea and bronchus.
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