Pioneering orthopaedic surgeon Dr Dror Paley, talks to Gulf News about reconstructive surgery and the services offered at the Paley Middle East Clinic in Burjeel Medical City, Abu Dhabi
Renowned limb-lengthening expert Dr Dror Paley, who has touched the lives of people from more than 80 countries, shares his plans after launching his first clinic in the Middle East and Asia. The Paley Middle East Clinic, part of his collaboration with healthcare conglomerate Burjeel Holdings, has opened in Burjeel Medical City (BMC) in Abu Dhabi.
Dr Paley is a pioneer orthopaedic surgeon who has developed over 100 surgical procedures and performed around 20,000 deformity reconstruction-related procedures and limb-lengthening surgeries. He is internationally recognised for his expertise in deformity reconstruction, limb lengthening, and joint preservation in children and adults. The new clinic at BMC will serve as a beacon for orthopaedic surgical excellence, innovation, and compassionate care by providing innovative reconstructive procedures for musculoskeletal disease.
We treat the most complicated cases, whether from birth, childhood, or adulthood. Today, we can treat conditions that 10 years ago could have only been treated through an amputation followed by a prosthetic limb.”
You are one of the top specialists in reconstructive orthopaedic surgery. What are the services you are offering in the new clinic?
The clinic offers almost every aspect of orthopaedic and neurosurgical care. We provide everything from joint replacement, sports medicine, foot and ankle surgery, hip surgery, hip preservation, and knee preservation to all the upper extremity work, including hand, elbow, and shoulder. We are most famous for our paediatric work and limb reconstruction, deformity correction, limb lengthening, joint preservation, and limb deformities.
This is your first entry into the Middle East market. What are your thoughts on this?
It is the first time we have opened a clinic in the Middle East, but I have been traveling to the Middle East and treating patients here for most of my life. Our clinic at BMC is our first base in Asia and the Gulf region. We have done this successfully in Europe, where we have created a satellite centre called Paley European Institute. The clinic at BMC will be the flagship centre for reconstructive orthopaedic treatments across the entire region.
What is the prevalence and extent of limb deformities in the world/MENA region?
Congenital deformities are rare. But limb length difference is not as rare as people think. About 1 in 500 people have a significant length discrepancy. Limb deformity is much more common. Our centre is unique because there is no limit to the degree of difficulty we treat. We treat the most complicated cases, whether from birth, childhood, or adulthood. Today, we can treat conditions that 10 years ago could have only been treated through an amputation followed by a prosthetic limb.
How would the Paley Middle East Clinic benefit the people of this region?
We receive a lot of people sponsored by health departments of different Gulf countries. Till now, their only option was to come to the US. Now, those patients and others can access our services here. Even those who come to the US for surgery can undergo rehabilitation here. We plan to provide services that have never been offered here. For example, we will provide osseointegration prosthetics, the latest for amputees, wherein the prosthesis comes right out of the bone. This technology doesn’t exist in Asia right now. We will provide the whole spectrum of services available at the Paley Institute in the US, treating all paediatric and adult orthopaedic deformities.
There are many misconceptions about reconstructive orthopaedic surgery, especially limb lengthening. What do you want patients to know?
Even though I have been doing it for 35 years, it is like science fiction for most people. Limb lengthening is a way to harness normal biology and regenerate limb segments. Even when growing a limb, you’re growing not just the bone but the muscles, the nerves, the arteries, the veins, and the skin. We are now at a stage where we can do this at a much more sophisticated level and with much better techniques. The Paley Institute in Florida has a dream team of orthopaedic surgeons, and I have personally handpicked them. These surgeons will come out here to perform cutting-edge surgery at BMC. We can offer treatments at a level that will give realistic hope to our patients. To me, realistic hope is the ability to do it safely, reliably, and reproducibly, and that’s what we deliver.
Limb lengthening, limb reconstruction, and deformity correction are relatively new subspecialties of orthopaedic surgery. Why did you choose this field?
I got interested in this field during my residency. I was the first person in the US to dedicate my practice to limb lengthening and limb deformity correction. In 1986, I went to study with a Soviet surgeon Gavriil Ilizarov, who was the one who started this field. He was doing these incredible things that weren’t being done anywhere else in the world. I studied these techniques and brought them back. Today, at the Paley Orthopaedic and Spine Institute, we have 20 surgeons of all specialties, and 7-8 of us are dedicated to limb reconstruction.
How can we mitigate limb lengthening, limb reconstruction, and deformity correction cases?
One way is to reduce road traffic accidents, which can result in deformities. Better treatment and prevention of children’s infections that destroy growth plates will also help prevent these conditions. In the future, we will also have genetic therapies that will change things.
For instance, there is now a drug to improve growth in children with Achondroplasia, the most common type of dwarfism. Earlier, the only treatment was lengthening their legs and making them taller.
Globally renowned experts
Along with Dr Paley, the medical team comprising orthopaedic experts — Dr David Feldman, Dr Michael Uglow, and Dr Irshad Waheed — will offer their services at the Paley Middle East Clinic. Dr Feldman is an internationally renowned hip and spine surgeon and an expert in arthrogryposis. Dr Uglow has expertise in children’s orthopaedics, specialising in limb length and deformity correction as well as foot and ankle surgery. At the same time, Dr Waheed is an accomplished orthopaedic surgeon skilled in limb lengthening and deformity correction procedures.
For more details, visit www.burjeel.com or call 80023