Soft stents which are hardened in place by UV light, allow a
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The existing airway stents have limitations. Some designs can slide out of place. Some can impede the normal transport of mucus, leading to mucus plugs. Other designs can become embedded in the tracheal tissue, making them difficult to safely remove. A new airway stent design may overcome these problems. This stent doesn't impede mucus flow, is easy to remove, and can be molded to the patient's anatomy in real-time, creating a snug, custom fit.

Like ready?to?wear clothing, medical devices come in a fixed set of sizes. While this may accommodate a large fraction of the patient population, others must either experience suboptimal results due to poor sizing or must do without the device.

Although techniques have been proposed to fabricate patient?specific devices in advance of a procedure, this process is expensive and time-consuming. An alternative solution that provides every patient with a tailored fit is to create devices that can be customized to the patient's anatomy as they are delivered.

This paper reports an in vivo molding process in which a soft flexible photocurable stent is delivered into the trachea or bronchi over an ultraviolet (UV)?transparent balloon. The balloon is expanded such that the stent conforms to the varying cross?sectional shape of the airways. UV light is then delivered through the balloon curing the stent into its expanded conformal shape.

The potential of this method is demonstrated using phantom, ex vivo, and in vivo experiments. This approach can produce stents providing equivalent airway support to those made from standard materials while providing a customized fit.

Advanced Functional Materials