First surgery using 3D printed Titanium bone

Eudore R. Chand

AJMAN 27 January 2021: A team of doctors at Thumbay University Hospital, Ajman successfully performed a mid-foot reconstruction using 3-D technology and saving a 9-year old Nigerian boy from foot amputation.

The young boy, who had severely injured his right foot including bones and soft tissues because of an accidental gunshot in Nigeria, had lost all hopes of getting it back as numerous consultations with doctors in his native country and in UAE had only indicated one solution: foot amputation.

The boy was not only a good student but a good dancer and karate champion. The parents approached Dr. Faisal Ameer, Head of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Thumbay University Hospital, Ajman.

After a thorough analysis and a CT angiography of the foot, Dr. Ameer concluded that salvation of the limb was possible, with a series of complex surgeries and treatments.

The first challenge was to provide adequate coverage and blood supply to save the foot. In a surgery lasting more than 14 hours, the doctors of the organization performed a micro-vascular free flap as the first procedure.

Then, the patient was reassessed with a 3D CT scan and an image of the missing bones destroyed by the bullet wound was reconstructed.

After days of work with design teams in Dubai, Germany and Belgium, the group consisting of doctors, Dr. Hillol Kanti Pal (Neurosurgeon), Dr. Mufique Gajdhar (Pediatric Surgeon) and Dr. Arun Kumar (Radiologist),a meshed bone using titanium was 3D printed, which was then implanted into the child’s foot in the following surgery.

The meshed structure was chosen to emulate the normal human bone structure, whereas titanium was used due to its strength, inertness and light weight.

“This is the first of its kind surgery to be ever reported in the field of medical science, which makes it unique, historic and extraordinary. It is a matter of great pride and accomplishment for Thumbay University Hospital as we bring glory to the nation, further cementing country’s positioning of making records in almost all areas of life, said Akbar Moideen Thumbay Vice president of Healthcare Division, Thumbay Group.

3D printing is an emerging field in reconstructive surgery allowing restoration of complex body structures which were not possible in 5 years back.

Dr. Ameer, said, “More than a third of all unintentional shootings of children take place in the homes of their friends, neighbors, or relatives. Fortunately, though, these injuries are not seen in UAE because of strict rules by the UAE government and the safe environment that the rulers of the nation ensure for its citizens as well as residents. However, in many countries people can own guns legally and there; children can get easily hurt causing a significant spike in mortality and morbidity rates.”

The boy is now undergoing intensive physiotherapy for complete rehabilitation and range of motion and is expected, soon, to make a full recovery.

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