Reinforced Electrospun Polycaprolactone Nanofibers for Tracheal Repair in an In Vivo Ovine Model.

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DOI: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2017.0437; PMCID: PMC6150933


Tracheal stenosis caused by congenital anomalies, tumors, trauma, or intubation-related damage can cause severe breathing issues, diminishing the quality of life, and potentially becoming fatal. Current treatment methods include laryngotracheal reconstruction or slide tracheoplasty. Laryngotracheal reconstruction utilizes rib cartilage harvested from the patient, requiring a second surgical site. Slide tracheoplasty involves a complex surgical procedure to splay open the trachea and reconnect both segments to widen the lumen. A clear need exists for new and innovative approaches that can be easily adopted by surgeons, and to avoid harvesting autologous tissue from the patient. This study evaluated the use of an electrospun patch, consisting of randomly layered polycaprolactone (PCL) nanofibers enveloping 3D-printed PCL rings, to create a mechanically robust, suturable, air-tight, and bioresorbable graft for the treatment of tracheal defects. The study design incorporated two distinct uses of PCL: electrospun fibers to promote tissue integration, while remaining air-tight when wet, and 3D-printed rings to hold the airway open and provide external support and protection during the healing process. Electrospun, reinforced tracheal patches were evaluated in an ovine model, in which all sheep survived for 10 weeks, although an overgrowth of fibrous tissue surrounding the patch was observed to significantly narrow the airway. Minimal tissue integration of the surrounding tissue and the electrospun fibers suggested the need for further improvement. Potential areas for further improvement include a faster degradation rate, agents to increase cellular adhesion, and/or an antibacterial coating to reduce the initial bacterial load.

Journal Title

Tissue Eng Part A





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MeSH Keywords

Absorbable Implants; Animals; Disease Models, Animal; Female; Nanofibers; Polyesters; Printing, Three-Dimensional; Sheep; Trachea; Tracheal Stenosis


airway stenosis/reconstruction; trachea; wound healing

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