Doctors Hope to Perform 3D Printed Windpipe Transplants


According to the New York Daily News, Dr. Faiz Bhora of St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals and his research team hope to one day successfully implant 3D-printed windpipes in patients.

Dr. Faiz Bhora is the hospital’s director of thoracic surgical oncology. Together, along with his team, Bhora begin by 3D printing a silicone model of the windpipe. Using data based on a CAT scan, the model windpipe prototype was printed on a [email protected] 3D printer in about 15 minutes.

Bhora and Dr. Robert Lebovics, co-directors of Mount Sinai’s Airway Center of New York, are now refining 3D printed models that are created completely from biologic material. Their goal is to be able to successfully implant 3D printed biological windpipes in human patients within a few years.

Currently, windpipe transplants for patients who have damage are nearly impossible. The few studies that have been reported have ended with the patients dying from complications a short time later.

The only option for patients now is to receive a tracheotomy, where a breathing tube is inserted, but this operation leaves the patient unable to talk and leaves room for infection.

“There is no good solution currently if one has to replace or transplant a large segment of the airway,” Bhora said. “So in the last couple of years, we’re trying to come up with a solution for these very difficult patients who really don’t have significant options.”

The goal is to provide patients with additional options and the hope is that 3D printed windpipes that are transplanted will continue to grow along with the patient, never needing to be replaced. Additionally, an organ that is created from one’s own cells would have the potential to dramatically lower the risk of rejection.

Until recently, “we haven’t had the stem cell technology along with 3D printing,” Bhora said. “There’s been such a wonderful collaboration here.”