Medical & Dental

Argentinian surgeons change woman’s life with 3D printed trachea

Doctors in Argentina have enlisted a 3D printer to reconstruct a patient’s trachea. The novel procedure took place at the Hospital Centro de Salud in Tucumán, Argentina.

Antonia Albarracín underwent the surgery 8 months ago and now doctors have released the full details of her successful recovery. Remarkably, the woman can now breathe, eat and talk normally. As she explains,

“I arrived without being able to speak, without being able to eat and at this moment I do normal activities. This operation changed my life, I feel great happiness,”

Antonia Albarracín undergoing a Gastroscopy. Photo via Télam.
Antonia Albarracín undergoing a Gastroscopy. Photo via Télam.

Albarracín suffered from peritonitis which caused significant damage to her trachea and required surgery. Guillermo Stock, head of the hospital’s surgery department, explains the process of restoring Albarracín’s windpipe,

“What we did was create a trachea with a 3D printer with a biodegradable material and we implanted it at the level of the neck,”

Having implanted the trachea, “it was routinely cleaned because there was skin left inside to cover the prosthesis. Now, for about six months, she is stable.”

Antonia Albarracín having made a full recovery. Photo via El Patagónico.
Antonia Albarracín having made a full recovery. Photo via El Patagónico.

3D printed windpipes

This breakthrough case is not the first to 3D print trachea prosthesis. French research has explored the possibilities of 3D printing trachea or bronchi.

However, this case is remarkable in that the 3D printed trachea was able to be successfully implanted in a patient and restore normal function.

According to local media, the surgeons in Tucumán have now performed another similar procedure thanks to knowledge from this first success. To learn more about current medical research into 3D printing trachea, read our interview with biomedical lecturer Dr. Achala de Mel.

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Featured image shows the 3D printed trachea.