3D printing isn’t new to medicine. It has been used to create everything from hearing aids to dental implants. But so far, applying this technology to children who are still growing has been a challenge. That might soon change, however, as researchers were able to cure three babies of a life-threatening breathing condition thanks to a 3D-printed splint installed on their airways. And, remarkably, the device was able to grow with them — a tremendous step forward for those who always imagined that 3D printing would save lives.
"This is the first 3D-printed implant specifically designed to change shape over time to allow for a child's growth before finally resorbing as the disease is cured," said Glenn Green, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan and a co-author of the study published today inScience Translational Medicine, at a press conference. Moreover, he said, the first child to receive this implant three years ago appears to be cured.