The researchers created a 3D printed bioresorbable respiratory scaffold

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new 3D printed airway scaffold that is biologically resorbable. They believe that this new stent could simplify the treatment of upper airway obstruction in the future, especially tracheal or main bronchial stenosis due to injury or disease. This type of injury or disease can lead to death because it limits the amount of oxygen a person can enter the brain.

Today, surgeons use stents made of silicone or metal as a way to treat these patients. However, metal stents must be surgically removed when no longer needed, increasing the likelihood of infection and surgical difficulties, and less rigid silicone stents may be displaced from the insertion site, which is very undesirable.

The researchers say this is because the implant does not adapt to the patient's anatomy, and the new stent developed is tailored specifically for the patient and is bioabsorbable, which is very practical for medical devices because it allows the stent to gradually dissolve after implantation.

The 3D printing process used to create the scaffold is known as digital light processing and uses photosensitive resins specifically tuned for this purpose. The process requires researchers to create a computed tomography image of a specific part of the airway that is used to develop a 3D model of the scaffold before transferring the data to a DLP printer.

The ultraviolet light illuminated from the printer hardens the resin and builds the scaffold layer by layer. Newly constructed resins are often too thick at room temperature and need to be processed at temperatures of 70 to 90 degrees Celsius, and then a special tool is required to aid in installation because they must be folded. The implant must not be knotted or squeezed in the wrong direction, and must be unfolded precisely at the target location.

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