A breakthrough 4D-printing technology has resulted in a tiny stent that could treat life-threatening conditions while the fetus is still in the womb.
Children still in the womb will sometimes develop a urethral stricture that can cause urine to accumulate in the bladder—a condition that is treated by relatively invasive surgery. In contrast, the tiny stent, from the team at ETH Zurich, could be inserted in the urinary tract to help alleviate the restriction without the need for cutting and sewing. The stent, which is 40 times smaller than previous versions, was created using “indirect 4D printing." The technique involves creating a 3D template, filling it with a shape memory polymer set with UV light, and then dissolving the mold to leave the printed structure behind.
According to lead author Carmela De Marco, “We firmly believe that our results can open the door to the development of new tools for minimally invasive surgery."
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