Three-dimensional Printing as an Aid to Airway Evaluation After Tracheotomy in a Patient With Laryngeal Carcinoma

Bin Han; Yajie Liu; Xiaoqing Zhang; Jun Wang


BMC Anesthesiol. 2016;16(6) 

In This Article


Background: Difficult airway may result in significant morbidity and mortality. Proficient airway evaluation, therefore, is one of the key elements in the safe conduct of anesthesia. A three-dimensional (3D) printing model was recently introduced for medical application. 3D printing is a fast, convenient, and relatively affordable technique. We present a case in which a 3D-printed airway model was successfully used for airway evaluation.

Case presentation: A 77-year-old man who had previously undergone total laryngectomy was scheduled for resection of a pelvic mass. The condition of his airway, however, complicated the procedure. Routine methods to evaluate his airway were not suitable. Therefore, the patient's computed tomography imaging data were used to generate stereolithography files and then to print out 3D models of his trachea. These 3D models enhanced our understanding of his tracheal morphology. They helped us devise a preanesthesia plan and effectively execute it without complications.

Conclusion: 3D printing models allow better understanding of morphological changes in the airway and aid preanesthesia planning. The successful outcome of our case suggests 3D printing is a potent tool for evaluating difficult and more widespread use is encouraged.