, Volume 39, Issue 8, pp 2091-2113
Date: 19 May 2011

Overview of Tracheal Tissue Engineering: Clinical Need Drives the Laboratory Approach

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Abstract

Breathing is a natural function that most of us do not even think about, but for those who suffer from disease or damage of the trachea, the obstruction of breathing can mean severe restrictions to quality of life or may even be fatal. Replacement and reconstruction of the trachea is one of the most difficult procedures in otolaryngology/head and neck surgery, and also one of the most vital. Previous reviews have focused primarily on clinical perspectives or instead on engineering strategies. However, the current review endeavors to bridge this gap by evaluating engineering approaches in a practical clinical context. For example, although contemporary approaches often include in vitro bioreactor pre-culture, or sub-cutaneous in vivo conditioning, the limitations they present in terms of regulatory approval, cost, additional surgery, and/or risk of infection challenge engineers to develop the next generation of biodegradable/resorbable biomaterials that can be directly implanted in situ. Essentially, the functionality of the replacement is the most important requirement. It must be the correct shape and size, achieve an airtight fit, resist collapse as it is replaced by new tissue, and be non-immunogenic. As we look to the future, there will be no one-size-fits-all solution.

Associate Editor Kent Leach oversaw the review of this article.