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Tracheal surgery using 4D-printing technology successful in China

Doctors from northwest China’s Shaanxi Province
recently performed a successful and rare
tracheal surgery using 4D printing technology on
a woman suffering from breathing
problem.According to a press conference held in
provincial capital Xi’an on Friday, doctors with
Tangdu Hospital inserted a 4D-printed tracheal
stent, a tubular support, outside a female
patient’s collapsed windpipe to keep the airway
open.

The 46-year-old female patient had a severe form
of tracheobronchomalacia, which causes the
windpipe to regularly collapse, preventing
normal breathing.”Her collapsed trachea is
inside the thorax and is 6-centimeters long. It
is very risky to cut it directly. Placing a
stent inside the windpipe is also impossible
because the narrowest section is only three
millimeters wide,” said Li Xiaofei, director
with Tangdu’s department of thoracic surgery.

Tracheal-surgery-using-4D-printing-technology-successful-in-China

The hospital worked with several other
institutions, including 3D printing research
center with the Fourth Military Medical
University, to produce the stent made of a
biomaterial called polycaprolactone, which
dissolves over time.”4D printing technology is
new,” said Cao Tiesheng, director with the
center. “It involves 3D printing items that are
designed to change over time.”

Cao pointed out that for this operation, doctors
set the dissolving time of the printed stent
beforehand. It will be gradually absorbed by the
patient in two or three years. “The patient does
not need to undergo another operation to remove
the stent.”The patient has recovered and will be
discharged from the hospital soon.”The long-term
effects will be observed. But this successful
operation will bring changes to other
operations,” said Li Xiaofei.

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