Can three-dimensional (3D) printing be used for tracheal reconstruction?

Three-dimensional (3D) printing can effectively create a biodegradable tracheal segment containing a person’s own cells for use in complex tracheal reconstruction.

The trachea (windpipe) is a tube that connects the upper respiratory tract to the lungs and helps carry air to the lungs. Traditional treatments for tracheal diseases such as stenosis (narrowing) or malacia (abnormal softening of the tissue) usually involve removal of the affected tracheal segment.

Three-dimensional printing and tissue engineering has the potential for creation of a custom-designed tracheal replacement prosthesis in the lab so that the affected tracheal segment can be swapped out instead of removed.

It's important to note, however, that 3D printed tissue is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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