Oct 17, 2016 | By Tess

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has announced that by the year 2017, all Dubai hospitals will have adopted 3D printing technologies for various applications. These include 3D printing artificial limbs, denture molds, fracture casts, and notably the 3D printing of artificial organs to be used in pre-surgical procedures and simulations. The announcement was made by a DHA official at the GITEX Tech Week.

According to Dr. Mohammad Al Redha, the director of the Department of Organizational Transformation (OT) at the DHA, the integration of 3D printing into all of Dubai’s hospital has been planned out so that it will be implemented over the course of the next year. As he explains in an interview: “This strategy will add speed to medical procedures, save costs and help doctors in pre-operative stage to plan complicated surgeries.”

This is not the first time we’ve seen 3D printing used to such ends, as a number of innovative hospitals and medical companies have been exploring the use of 3D printed organs and anatomical parts so that they can be used for pre-surgical planning and ultimately, surgical simulations.

As Dr. Redha continued to explain about 3D printing’s potentials within the medical field, the technology could be used to create patient-specific models based off of CT scans so that doctors could prepare in depth for a specific surgery. The innovative method, not only useful for making doctors more at ease with their surgeries, could also speed up overall surgery times and help the patient to understand what procedure and surgery they will be undergoing exactly.

Dr. Shatha Saif, a DHA officer, offered an example to showcase how useful 3D printing technologies could be in pre-surgical processes. She said: “In one case, a patient had a skull fracture and using a CT scan we were able to get the fracture scanned. This information was fed into the 3D printing machine and, using a special kind of plastic that is used to make Lego pieces, a three-dimensional image of the skull was printed with the machine.” With the detailed and patient specific 3D printed model, the doctor was able to visualize the whole injury and understand how it was affecting the rest of the skull. Normally, however, a doctor would only be able to see a small section of the skull on the operating table and would have less of an understanding about how the rest of the skull was impinged or affected.

For the moment, it seems that the DHA will be primarily using plastic for the pre-surgical planning models, though Dr. Saif is noted as saying that the OT department is already exploring the use of other types of materials such as ceramic and titanium. These materials would be especially useful for dental care, and for bone implants, respectively. She also noted, “Technology changes very fast and very soon we might be using actual bone or cartilage from a patient, growing it and using it as basic material with stem cells as bio ink to print an actual ear or any other organ. That scenario is the stuff of science fiction but very soon this is going to be a reality with the success of 3D printing.”

Of course, a huge advantage of 3D printing within the medical field is the cutting back of costs, as the technology allows for small batch production and only uses the needed amount of material. Dr. Redha of the DHA seems confident that this will help move forward 3D printing innovations within the field, and he even envisions a future wherein people can print their own organs. Of course, for this to become a reality, not only will 3D printing technologies have to be advanced, but regulations and restrictions will have to be defined and implemented.

On a larger scale, Dubai has been advancing quickly within the world of 3D printing, largely due to its ambitious 3D Printing Strategy, which seeks to integrate additive manufacturing technologies in three sectors: medical, construction, and consumer products. Most recently, the city announced it would be building the world’s first 3D printed laboratory, and a fully 3D printed residential building.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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