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3D technology lowers health expenditures by reducing time
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DUBAI: The usefulness as well as the challenges surrounding 3D technology in medical surgery was discussed at the ongoing “Building Healthcare Middle East 2016.” The event was inaugurated by UAE Health and Prevention Minister Abdul Rahman Mohammad Al Owais at the Sheikh Rashid Hall of the Dubai World Trade Centre on Monday.

Emirates Medical Association-Dubai president/Dubai Hospital-Pathology Department head Dr Mouza Al Sharhan said at her keynote speech that 3D technology in the field of healthcare is the future therefore at the three-day exhibition and conferences with the theme “A Paradigm Shift,” a special session was dedicated.

The session was one of the most attended on Monday and questions as well as comments avalanched after each of the lectures delivered. Stanford School of Medicine-Innovative Surgery director/Minimally Invasive Surgery assistant professor Dr Homer Rivas; Mayo Clinic-Anatomic Modelling Laboratory co-director/Division of Neuroradiology member Dr Jonathan Morris; Sheikh Khalifa Medical City-Paediatric Cardiac Surgery head Dr Laszlo Kiraly and Dresden University-Centre for Translational Bone, Joint & Soft Tissue Research head Dr Prof Michael Gelinsky, delivered the lectures.

Morris told The Gulf Today the involvement of Mayo Clinic in 3D technology began eight years back when one of their multi-speciality medical teams was faced with how to separate twins co-joined in the liver.

One of the surgeons approached him to provide him with “the model” for the best approach on the case.

“We have been using 3D since then according to clinical need,” Morris said.

Asked if the technology he described as a “medical tool like the MRI and the CT scan” were safe along with the implants derived from it, he said, “It depends on who is doing it. Everything has to be accurate.”

“All of the materials must be FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)-approved like the titanium, the peek, pekk, the nylon 11 and nylon 12,” Morris added.

Some of the surgeries employing 3D technology conducted at the Mayo Clinic from 2007 were for  craniosynostosis (irregularly shaped skull) on a six-year-old child, tumours, maxillofacial deformities and osteosarcoma (primary bone cancer among children and adolescents).

Morris said 3D technology answers the “haptic perception” concern of medical practitioners and even that of the patients and their families because while health issues particularly surgeries may be understood through graphics and visuals, it is the sense of touch which 3D provides that adds another dimension to comprehension.

From the open forum and asked by a biotechnical engineer from Saudi Arabia regarding regulations and 3D, one of the latest medical innovations, Rivas said, “Innovations go faster than regulations. There are 100,000 health apps with 20 million users all over the world but only one per cent of those 100,000 are regulated.”

Rivas then emphasised that everything with 3D technology in the realm of medical practice—materials, equipment, processes and procedures, human resources—must be governed by standards and rules.

He had earlier stated in his lecture that patient engagement is of utmost importance in the application of 3D inasmuch as medical practitioners and specifically physicians are also “very averse to change and risks.”

Both Morris and Rivas agreed with a comment from the audience that 3D technology helps decrease health expenditures.

For instance, because the medical team already knows how to tackle and work on the conditions of a patient, the usual four hours spent on a certain surgery may be accomplished in one hour reducing manpower and time among other factors considered in a traditionally-set operation.

In his lecture, Rivas also mentioned of the “Enabling the Future,” an international organisation of 8,000 engineers, artists, students, parents, occupational therapists, prosthetists, designers, writers, teachers and creatives who are into the “creation of open source (free downloadable) designs for mechanical hand assistive devices and 3D printed for less than $50.00 (Dhs184.50) in materials.”

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