AMS Spring 2023

Pennsylvania: Doctors Reconstruct 13-Month-Old’s Airway with 3D Printed Implanted Splint

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3D printed splint created to strengthen Ramiah Martin’s esophagus [Image: screen shot from WGAL 8 video]

A little girl in Susquehanna Valley, PA left Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital after spending her first 13 months there. The innovation of 3D printing played a major part in the healing of Ramiah Martin, who was born without a trachea and had an improperly formed esophagus. This health condition is extremely uncommon, and in many cases, fatal. Resourceful thinking and the use of progressive technology helped send Ramiah home though.

Thanks to 3D printing, Ramiah’s doctors and surgeons were able to come to the rescue and follow through to her eventual release. First, however, intense analysis of her medical condition was necessary. 3D printing entered the picture when she was just four months old as medical professionals fabricated a surgical model of her esophageal passage for a better understanding of her condition.

3D printed model

3D printed model of Ramiah Martin’s esophageal passage [Image: screen shot from WGAL 8 video]

This took them to the next and even more important step as they were able to create a windpipe from her esophagus, and then strengthen it further with a small plastic 3D printed piece.

“We knew we had one shot to take care of this problem,” Dr. Anthony Tsai, of Penn State Children’s Hospital, said in a WGAL 8 interview.

Ramiah’s rare condition is known as tracheal agenesis. The treatments were complex, and baby Ramiah’s parents were faced with hard decisions considering the usual outcome of tracheal agenesis, and the dedication required to keep her alive.

A Pennsylvania news outlet, The Express, states that Ramiah’s doctors researched her condition extensively, seeking published information available from only 11 cases. Three other babies were born with the condition around that time, and none survived. Obviously, the health prognosis and outlook were grave, although there is also a four-year-old in Wisconsin currently living with the condition.

“I wanted to do everything I could to give my daughter a chance,” said her father, Robert Martin.

Baby Ramiah [Image: screen shot from WGAL 8 video]

13-month-old Ramiah Martin [Image: screen shot from WGAL 8 video]

The Penn State Center for Medical Innovation was very involved in Ramiah’s case, along with medical professionals spanning numerous departments of the main hospital. While they do refer to Ramiah’s current state as ‘uncertain’ (she will require additional surgeries along with monitoring of a health condition too), doctors are optimistic that this type of innovative procedure will lend success to surgeries for other patients born with tracheal agenesis. Although Ramiah is at home with a ventilator attachment to help her breathe, she is happy and alert, and expected to be enjoying playtime with her three sisters soon.

We have followed the creation of so many different 3D printed medical tools over the years, triumphing as so many younger patients are allowed a better quality of life as caring innovators are finding ways to reshape cleft palates, fabricate a variety of implants, and create surprising functionality with the help of other devices like multi-faceted prosthetics. Find out more about Ramiah and her condition in this video.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source: WGAL News 8; The Express]

 

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