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Doctors save Ohio by by 'printing' an airway tube

Wednesday - 5/22/2013, 6:10pm  ET

BOSTON (AP) -- In a medical first, scientists used plastic particles and a 3-D laser printer to make an artificial airway splint to save the life of a baby boy.

The little Ohio boy used to stop breathing every day because of a birth defect that caused his airway to collapse. Now he breathes normally, thanks to the first-of-a-kind implant he received at the University of Michigan last year, when he was 3 months old.

To make the device, doctors use a computer-guided laser printer that stacks and fuses thin sheets of biodegradable plastic to form the airway tube.

It's the latest advance in the field of regenerative medicine, making body parts in the lab. The case is described in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.


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