Tracheal suspension by using 3-dimensional printed personalized scaffold in a patient with tracheomalacia

J Thorac Dis. 2016 Nov;8(11):3323-3328. doi: 10.21037/jtd.2016.10.53.


The major methods are used to fix or stabilize the central airways and major bronchi with either anterior suspension and/or posterior fixation for severe tracheomalacia (TM). Many support biomaterials, like mesh and sternal plate, can be used in the surgery. But there are no specialized biomaterials for TM which must be casually fabricated by the doctors in operation. Three dimensional printing (3DP) has currently untapped potential to provide custom, protean devices for challenging and life-threatening disease processes. After meticulous design, we created a polycaprolactone (PCL) scaffold for a female patient with TM, which would support for at least 24 months, to maintain the native lumen size of collapsed airways. Using 4-0 Polyglactin sutures, we grasped and suspended the malacic trachea into the scaffold. A remarkable improvement can be observed in the view of bronchoscope and chest CT after surgery. In the narrowest cavity of malacic trachea, the inner diameter increased from 0.3 to 1.0 cm, and the cross sectional area increased 4-5 times. The patient felt an obvious relief of dyspnea after surgery. In a word, the 3DP PCL scaffold can supply a personalized tool for suspending the malacic trachea in the future.

Keywords: 4D materials; Tracheomalacia (TM); polycaprolactone scaffold; suspension; three dimensional printing (3DP).