3D printing and pulmonology. COVID-19. Lung volume measurements. Pulmonary hypertension.


Interventional and Chest Diagnostic Procedures

3D printing and pulmonology

Recent advances in 3D printing has enabled physicians to apply this technology in medical education, procedural planning, tissue modeling, and implantable device manufacturing. This is especially true in the field of pulmonology. Advancements in 3D printing have made personalized airway stents a reality, both by 3D printing-assisted injection molding or direct 3D printing.

Airway stents have significantly evolved over the last half century. With use of silicone, bare metallic, and hybrid stents, pulmonologists have an ever-expanding option to address airway stenosis due to both benign and malignancy etiologies. Personalized airway stents hold the potential for advance customization, minimizing pressure points, and improving airflow dynamics to increase mucus clearance. In January 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared patient-specific airway stents developed by Dr. Thomas Gildea of Cleveland Clinic. The patient-specific silicone stents are created using CT scans and 3D visualization software to generate a 3D-printed mold that was subsequently used to inject with medical-grade silicone. Two years earlier, a Duke University startup known as restor3D created the first direct 3D printed airway stent using a compressible biocompatible material with properties similar to that of silicone. Both of these stents have been used in patients with promising response.

As we look into the future, the field of pulmonology will experience significant changes with more adoption of 3D printing (ie, additive manufacturing). We may soon be able to create personalized airway prosthesis of any type (stents, spigots, valves, tracheostomies, t-tubes) for the benefit of our patients.

Dr. George Cheng

Dr. George Cheng

Disclosure: Dr. George Cheng is a cofounder of restor3D.

George Cheng, MD, PhD, FCCP

Steering Committee Member

Pediatric Chest Medicine

COVID-19: Pediatric story of a new pandemic

In December 2019, an outbreak of pneumonia identified to be caused by 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) emerged in Wuhan, China, possibly originating from the local wet market selling many species of live animals. A novel member of enveloped RNA coronavirus was identified in samples of BAL fluid from a patient in Wuhan.

It has since rapidly spread globally to countries across six continents. As of early April, 1,286,409 cases have been reported worldwide with 337,933 cases (9,600 deaths) in the US ( with more cases and deaths every day. Most of these initial reports of COVID-19 (COronaVIrusDisease) in children are from China. Fever (60%) and cough (65%) were the most common symptoms. Procalcitonin elevation (80% and co-infection (80%) were prominent clinical findings. Consolidation with surrounding halo sign (50%) and ground-glass opacities (60%) on CT scan were typical radiologic findings. Almost all children recovered without needing intensive care support.

Increased IgM COVID-19 antibody levels observed in three neonates raise questions of potential in-utero transmission (Kimberlin et al. JAMA 2020 Mar 26. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.4868). One study provided evidence for persistent fecal shedding and possibility of fecal-oral transmission (Xu et al. Nat Med 2020 Mar 13. doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-0817-4).

Dr. Harish Rao

Dr. Harish Rao

Initial reports show that children appear to be at similar risk of infection as adults, though less likely to have severe symptoms. Young children, particularly infants, are more vulnerable to infection (Dong et al. Pediatrics. 2020 Apr. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-0702); (Bi et al. medRxiv 2020 Mar 27. doi: 10.1101/2020.03.03.20028423v3). Thus far, few deaths have been reported in the pediatric age group. Trials are being conducted on a war footing to find a cure and a vaccine.

Harish Rao, MD, MBBS

Steering Committee Member


Next Article: