Dubai:Suffering with painful osteoarthritis of his left knee, Elnoor Muntasir El Hassan, a 48-year-old doctor working for the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Afghanistan and Salman Ahmed Qureshi a 66-year-old, Pakistani Engineer working in Dubai had lost hope to be able walk again. While Elnoor Mutasir suffered from complete destroyed knees due to an injury in his youth, Salman Ahmed was a victim of malalignment of kneecaps, which led to severe Arthritis of both knees over time. However, Professor Dr. Matthias Honl, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Head of Joint Replacement Unit at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, Dubai (BHAS) offered them something they hadn’t heard before – customized knee replacement made using a 3-D printer. Performed for the first time in the UAE and GCC region, by the first surgeon to perform this surgery, the advanced medical procedure, not only offered a new lease of life to the patients, but also ensured that they could perform regular day-to-day activities with ease.
“When both the patients visited us for the first time, they were in a lot of pain. After assessing the condition, we decided to have customised knees for each of them, using 3D technology. The procedure is simple and makes use of a CT 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 Matthias who was using the technology since 2008 in Austria. “I am happy that the technology found its way to be available for our patients in the Gulf region.”
Technological advancements in 3D printing, increasing trends in customized 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 Healthcare Market was valued approximately at USD 16.82 billion in 2017, which is anticipated to grow with a healthy growth rate of more than 11.51 percent over the forecast period 2018-2025.
“3D printed customised knees are similar to shoes, which are tailor fit to a patient’s anatomy. These are individualized 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 Matthias.
According to Dr Matthias, the price of knee customisations is as cost effective as a normal implant, and with most reputed insurances covering the cost, centres of excellence all over the world use this technology to offer patients advanced relief. In his opinion, these customisations can be a main factor for a patient to forget that he ever went through a joint replacement surgery. Perfect sizing, ligament tension and high end materials are the leading factor to ensure longevity of knee replacement.
Studies suggest that knee-replacement surgery is witnessing an uptick, as more individuals age or become obese, leading to an increase in knee osteoarthritis. According to the study, the number for knee replacements will increase to more than 1 million by 2030 and approach 3 million by 2060.
The planning and manufacturing process, took about 3-4 weeks and both patients received their new knee joints successfully at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, Dubai, UAE. The hospital will serve beneficial to several other patients, who are also scheduled to receive their new knee joints in the coming days.