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


Failures in tracheal intubation caused by difficult airways frequently result in lethal anesthesia-related complications.[1] It has been reported that many anesthesia-related deaths are attributed to improper handling of a difficult airway.[2] The airway structures in patients with laryngeal carcinoma undergo considerable change after surgery, and various lesions may ensue, including granulomas, tracheomalacia, and esophagotracheal fistula, among others.[3,4] Also, the established artificial airway may weaken the nonspecific respiratory defense capacities, which would increase the risk of chronic lung disease. Hence, airway evaluation is one of the key elements in anesthetic management of such patients.

Rapid prototyping is a process of producing a 3D model layer by layer based on computer-aided design (CAD) data or images that precisely represent the anatomical details of a defect.[5] As it is becoming better known, 3D printing is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. Having been used for decades in industrial design, it has recently shown potential in medical applications,[6] especially for implant designing and preoperative planning.[7,8] As far as we are aware, however, this technique has not been used to assess difficult airways for preanesthesia evaluation. In this report, we present a case in which a new method of producing a 3D-printed airway model was used to evaluate a patient's airway before anesthesia induction.