Toulouse doctors airway stents 3D reconstruction
This latest development offers hope to patients who suffer with Tracheobronchitis and other infections that affect the windpipe and/or bronchi.
Doctors in Toulouse have for the first time successfully developed and implanted customised airway stents made with 3D technology.
This latest development offers hope to patients who are suffering with Tracheobronchitis and other infections that affect the windpipe and/or bronchi. For many patients, standard prostheses do not fit in these situations. But through a collaboration between the Pulmonology Department at Toulouse University and AnatomikModeling, a Toulouse-based start-up, 3D technology has enabled the production of customised prosthetic stents.
The first results from a clinical trial in which these stents were implanted have been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the most prestigious international pneumology journal. The entry outlines the causes of throat infections, the limits of standard prostheses and how 3D technology has helped to deliver a promising alternative.
Narrowing, or stenosis, of the trachea (windpipe) and/or bronchi typically leads to breathing difficulties and requires specific management through the implantation of a stent to open the airways. Stenosis can occur for a number of reasons, such as post-intubation and post-tracheotomy problems, post-lung transplantation complications, and diseases of the tracheal tissue. Obstruction of these upper airways is also a common complication in lung cancer patients.
Standard prostheses used to treat patients with these problems are usually suitable, and negate the issue effectively. Yet, occasionally the stent will not be appropriate for the patient in terms of size, diameter or in cases with complex tracheal or bronchial anatomy. Furthermore, poorly adapted prostheses present a risk of stent migration, inflammatory reaction and/ or perforation. The French researchers involved with this project recognised the need for an innovative solution to overcome these issues.
The 3D-technology inspired prosthetic stents are custom-made in three steps. First, a 3D reconstruction of the patient’s airways is produced from CT-scan images. This virtual reconstruction is then used to create a 3D-printed mould. Finally, a patient-specific stent is manufactured from medical grade silicone elastomer. From here, the prosthetic is implanted by conventional bronchoscopy with the help of a prosthesis pusher.
This new solution will continue to be evaluated in an ongoing clinical trial. Already, several patients have successfully received these implants, with feedback suggesting an improved quality of life with no complications.