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dhaWhile before you may have associated Dubai with glitz and glamour, now that may be changing as the Dubai government seems to be all about looking toward the uses of 3D printing, from consumer goods to construction to medicine. They have certainly come much farther than most of us would have expected in such a short amount of time since announcing their 3D Printing Strategy, catapulting quickly from the 3D printed office to, more recently, using the technology to improve their transportation system.

Now, 3D printing is heading full throttle into the hospitals. As an official of the city-state made clear recently, all hospitals under the jurisdiction of the Dubai Health Authority will begin using 3D printing technology as early as next year. If all goes as projected, they will be fabricating up a storm of prosthetics, molds for dentures, fracture casts, and training models that will allow practice for both medical students and surgeons.

“Our 3D printing program is aligned to the 3D printing strategy initiated by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. We have adopted this strategy and have worked out how the program will roll out in 2017. This strategy will add speed to medical procedures, save costs and help doctors in pre-operative stage to plan complicated surgeries,” said Dr. Mohmmad Al Redha, director of the Department of Organizational Transformation (OT) at the DHA, in a recent interview.

“Also, 3D printing will help in providing accuracy in medical education. We will be printing all models of organs using a basic CT scan of a patient to help doctors simulate a surgery and visualize all eventualities. It will not only save time and give speed in the surgery but also give the doctor ease in conducting the surgery while reducing anxiety for the patient who can be informed exactly about what the procedure involves.”

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Dr Mohmmad Al Redha, director of the Department of Organizational Transformation (OT) at the DHA [Photo: DHA]

As Dubai continues to discover more areas for 3D printing as well as benefits that just continue to emerge, their strategy will most likely continue to evolve—and expand—as well. Obviously, the field of medicine will be an area of focus, as 3D printing is now being adopted around the world in many hospitals, for everything from 3D printed heart models to the creation of libraries which house them for the use of other medical professionals. The Dubai Health Authority will most likely, due to the government’s agenda, move at an accelerated pace as they begin instilling the technology. It sounds as if they are already off to a good start:

“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,” said Dr. Shatha Saif, a DHA officer.

“This enabled the doctor to examine the injury and also turn it around and see where it was impinging on the inside of the brain. In a regular scenario inside the operation theatre, what the surgeon gets to see is a very small section of the injury. But seeing the 3D model will help him plan the surgery and also inform him about the places where the injury was impinging on the brain. This kind of advanced information is helpful in saving surgery time and providing relevant information.”

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[Photo: DHA]

Already, the DHA has ambitions to begin 3D printing with other materials such as ceramic. Dr. Saif points out that they are working toward being able to use ceramic for the fabrication of teeth. And of course, the use of titanium in 3D printing has not gone unnoticed either by the DHA and they soon also hope to be using this material that is becoming more and more popular for implants.

“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,” said Dr. Redha.

“Very soon people will be able to print their own basic medicines like paracetamol at home, print their own dental implants and artificial limbs if they can lay their hands on the information required.”

Dr. Redha also brings up a topic that is only beginning to offer concern to some, and that is regulation. As the technology continues to progress at what often seems like lightning speed, he states that strategy planners are just trying to keep up with the rapid pace—and as affordability and accessibility come more and more into play—they may truly find this difficult. That’s not likely to slow many down from embracing the technology, however, and as we can see—certainly not Dubai. Discuss in the Dubai Hospitals forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Gulf News]





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