Dubai: In a pioneering surgery conducted at the Burjeel Hosptial for Advanced Surgery, two patients suffering from painful osteoarthritis were fitted with individualised 3D printed knees that were adapted exactly to their individual needs. The patients — Dr Al Noor Muntasir Al Hassan, 48, an Afghan expatriate and Salman Ahmad Quraishi, 66, a Pakistani expatriate, both had destroyed their knees in separate incidents. Al Hassan, a doctor with the World Health Organisation suffered from osteoarthritis while Qureshi had malalignment of the knee caps leading to severe arthritis.
Professor Dr Matthais Honl, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and head of joint replacement unit at BHAS, told Gulf News: “Both patients when they visited us complained of extreme pain. After assessing their condition, we decided to have customised knees for each of them, using 3D technology. The procedure is simple and makes use of a CAT scan to size up the patient’s knee before the implant is even manufactured. It then prints a wax mould of the implant based on the dimensions of the patient’s knee, which is used as a model for the implant itself,” said Dr Honl who has been using the technology since 2008 in Austria. He added that the technology was being used for the first time in the UAE and the GCC region. “I am happy that the technology found its way to be available for our patients in the Gulf region,” added Dr Honl.
Knee replacements surgery is on the rise and is likely to increase to more than a million surgeries per year by 2030 and three million by 2060 worldwide. Technological advancements in 3D printing, increasing trends in customised 3D printing and increasing public-private funding for 3D printing activities are the substantial driving factors of the market across the globe. Reports suggest that global 3D printing in the health care market was valued approximately at $16.82 billion (Dh61.7 billion) in 2017, which is anticipated to grow with a healthy growth rate of more than 11.51 per cent over the forecast period 2018-2025.
Dr Honl explained why such knees have a greater chance of success. “These 3D printed customised knees are similar to shoes, which are tailor-made to fit a patient’s anatomy. These are individualised fittings that virtually eliminates sizing compromises, common with off-the-shelf implants and often associated with pain after surgery. The design follows the shape and contour of each patient’s knee, providing an increased potential for a more natural feeling knee and quicker recovery. The knees are fitted to the patient’s natural joint lines to avoid unbalanced ligaments, which is a common cause of patient dissatisfaction. Furthermore, the joint comes with patient specific instruments, which makes the surgery a quick and precise process, also reducing the lengths of incision,” added Dr Honl.
The planning and manufacturing process in these two cases, took about three-four weeks and BHAS also plans to fit other patients with similar customised knees.