Doctors in US use 3D printing to save a newborn

20 October 2015

Doctors in the US have put 3D printing to good use to build face models of a foetus in order to determine the necessity of a lifesaving delivery procedure in a baby with a life-threatening lump on its face, PTI reported.

Megan Thompson was about 30 weeks pregnant when an ultrasound revealed a walnut-sized lump on her tiny, unborn child's face that could prevent him from breathing after birth.

Thompson was referred to the University of Michigan's CS Mott Children's Hospital where doctors had to decide between a C-section delivery and a rare and complex lifesaving procedure. They used 3D printing to make that difficult decision.

With a specialised MRI of the foetus in the womb, doctors used a 3D printer to print models of the foetus face, to determine exactly where and how dangerous the soft tissue mass was.

''Based on the images we had, it was unclear whether the mass would block Conan's airway after birth. The 3D printed model of the foetus allowed us to actually see in person what it looked like and have something in our hands to help us decide the best way to care for the baby,'' said senior author Glenn Green, associate professor of paediatric otolaryngology at U-M's CS Mott Children's Hospital.

''This is the first case we are aware of that 3D printing has helped show how severe an airway risk in a foetus was in order to make clinical decisions. 3D printing may be an incredibly valuable tool to help doctors prepare for complex cases ahead of birth,'' said Green.

With the extra information from the 3D printed models, doctors were able to determine that Conan would not need what was called an Ex Utero Intrapartum Treatment Procedure (EXIT).

Conan was born via a scheduled C-section.

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