Your trachea, or windpipe, connects the throat and lungs. Air comes in through the windpipe; carbon dioxide goes out.
If it is torn or diseased, surgeons have two ways to fix it. They can remove the damaged part and attach the healthy ends, but there’s only so much slack. Or they can extract some rib cartilage and graft it into the windpipe, which is also made of cartilage. Additional surgery has risks, however. So some patients can’t be helped.
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MakerBot Stories | Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
MakerBot Stories | Feinstein Institute for Medical Research from MakerBot on Vimeo.
A team of surgeons and scientists at the Feinstein Institute of Medical Research, the research branch of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, has grown cartilage on a 3D printed scaffolding, pointing the way to custom repairs for damaged and diseased tracheas, or windpipes. The cells grow on a scaffolding created from ordinary MakerBot PLA Filament on a MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer. “3D printing and tissue engineering have the potential to replace lots of different parts of the human body,” says Dr. Lee Smith, a pediatric otolargyngologist who participated in the research. “The potential for creating replacement parts is almost limitless.”