Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has performed Georgia's first-ever procedure to place 3-D-printed tracheal splints in a pediatric patient. A cross-functional team of Children's surgeons used three custom-made splints.

Biomedical engineers used this technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology helped create using an innovative and experimental 3-D-printing technology, to assist the breathing of a 7-month-old patient battling life-threatening airway obstruction.

"We are so fortunate to work with a leading engineering school like Georgia Tech to find innovative, potentially life-saving treatment options for our patients," said Donna Hyland, president, and CEO, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

"This is a great example of how aligning Children's clinical expertise with the missions of our research collaborators can improve patient outcomes. Research that can be translated into more effective care at the bedside is why our collaboration with Georgia Tech is so important for the future of pediatric care in Georgia," said Hyland.

The patient who received the groundbreaking surgery is a 7-month-old boy battling both congenital heart disease and tracheobronchomalacia, a condition that causes severe, life-threatening airway obstruction.

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

During his 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 3-D-printed tracheal splint, which is a novel device still in development, to open his airways and expand the trachea and bronchus.

Scott Hollister, Ph.D., who holds the Patsy and Alan Dorris Endowed Chair in Pediatric Technology, a joint initiative supported by Georgia Tech and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, developed the process for creating the tracheal splint using 3-D printing technology at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital before joining Georgia Tech.

The Children's procedure was the 15th time a 3-D-printed tracheal splint was placed in a pediatric patient. "The possibility of using 3-D printing technology to save the life of a child is our motivation in the lab every day," said Hollister.

"We are determined to develop innovative solutions that meet the needs of Georgia's most complex pediatric patients," said Hollister. ?????? The splints were created using reconstructions of the patient's airways from CT scans.

Hollister and his team of biomedical engineers collaborated with the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) so that GCMI could create multiple versions of the splint, of varying sizes, to ensure the perfect fit was available for the surgical team to select and place around the patient's airways during surgery. GCMI will also support the ongoing development and commercialization of the technology.