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Researchers Make Advancements in 3D Printed Urethra for Hypospadias Treatment

Published on June 18, 2024 by Isaac B.

Amid the growing adoption of 3D printing within the medical field, researchers at Poland’s Łódż University of Technology are developing a revolutionary solution for infant boys born with hypospadias, a common congenital condition affecting the urethral opening, causing it to be mislocated. Leveraging cutting-edge 3D printing technology, they are developing a “bionic urethra” that could revolutionize treatment for this prevalent urological issue.

Hypospadias, affecting approximately 1 in 250 newborn boys, necessitates surgical intervention due to potentially deadly complications in the upper urinary tract if left untreated. Despite the availability of numerous surgical techniques, no universally satisfactory or long-term effective solution remains. Dr. Dorota Bociąg from the university emphasized the limitations of current treatments, explaining, “There are almost several hundred different solutions and surgical methods that doctors can use to treat hypospadias. The problem is that none of them is good or effective enough.”

(Photo Credits: Łódż University of Technology)

The research team is nearing completion of the materials necessary to print the bionic urethra. The device aims to surpass existing medical solutions by seamlessly integrating with the body, gradually degrading over time while maintaining functionality. Speaking on these goals, Dr. Dorota Bociaga detailed the multi-layered structure of the bionic urethra, stating, “It will consist of three layers, each of them has its own specific task. The layer from which urine flows must be antibacterial and pressure-resistant.”

The Design of the 3D Printed Bionic Urethra

The design includes an inner antibacterial layer to prevent infections and withstand urinary pressure. The outer layers provide structural support, allowing the inner layer to mature and grow in sync with the child’s natural tissue. “Our goal is for the bionic coil to be ‘encased’ by the body’s natural cells and grow with the child,” explained Dr. Bociaga. “The outer layers are there to support the inner structure, so it has time to grow. It should also protect the inner layer against the pressure of other body tissues.”

Dr. Dorota Bociaga and her team. (Photo Credits: Łódż University of Technology)

Before human clinical trials, the research team intends to conduct preclinical tests on animal models to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the bionic urethra. The team projects that this approach could likely transform hypospadia treatment, offering a more effective and durable solution for affected infants. Additionally, its success could pave the way for similar advancements in other areas of pediatric and adult urology.

What do you think of these advancements made by researchers at Poland’s Łódż University of Technology toward a 3D printed bionic urethra? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly newsletter here for the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

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