Dubai: Doctors in Dubai have removed a tumour from a patient’s kidney with the help of a cutting-edge aid — a custom 3D-printed organ to help plan the complex surgery.
While 3D printing technology has been used alongside medical operations for several years, the procedure is the first of its kind in the Middle East.
The patient, a 42-year-old Palestinian woman who is a resident in the UAE, had at first complained of abdominal pain. A test at a hospital detected a tumour in one of her kidneys.
With the results in hand, she visited Dubai Hospital, one of four medical centres operated by the Dubai Health Authority.
There, doctors were faced with a tough choice.
“We had two options,” Dr Yasser Saeedi, a consultant urologist at Dubai Hospital, told a press conference on Monday.
“One option was to take out the entire kidney. The other option was to save the kidney.”
Saving the kidney was the hard option. While only four centimetres long, the tumour was located deep inside the kidney, nestled next to the renal artery, making it very difficult to operate.
After a CT scan and ultrasounds, Dr Saeedi decided on a rare approach — to have a transparent 3D mockup of the kidney made.
Medical professional believe that 3D technology allows doctors to better plan their surgery and perform far less invasive procedures.
The model of the patient’s kidney clearly showed the lesion, which had been rendered in blue plastic.
Future of surgery
Several weeks later, Dr Saeedi and two assistant surgeons operated on the patient, aided by ultrasound. The whole procedure took three hours.
“With the 3D printing, and knowing exactly how to approach the tumour and how to remove it, it took us an hour less [than normal]. We’ve done it in three hours exact,” he said. ”The removal of the lesion itself took us only 28 minutes.”
The surgery was performed last Wednesday. Initial tests on the excised tumour indicate that it was cancerous.
“Post–operatively, the patient is doing very well. She is improving day by day. She is going to be discharged in a few days’ time,” said Dr Saeedi.
The technology to print 3D mock-ups of organs is not available in the UAE yet. The particular model of one of the patient’s kidney had been ordered from the United States.
However, Dubai Health Authority officials plan to make 3D printed organs available very soon.
“Using 3D technology for surgeries and other medical purposes is the future,” said Humaid Al Qutami, Dubai Health Authority’s director-general.
“We are currently working on developing regulations for 3D printing for patients and the medical sector in Dubai… We are also looking at training doctors and health-care professionals on the use of this technology.”