Karipur plane crash survivor undergoes rare bone replacement surgery in Kerala

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Wayanad-native Noufal was in the media when he got discharged from Aster MIMS hospital in Kozhikode in October 2020, after rigorous treatment of over 70 days. He is one of the injured survivors of the fateful Karipur Airport plane crash in Kerala on August 7. But, the 36-year-old had to undergo one last surgery, which, according to medical experts, is rare. On January 22 this year, Noufal underwent a talus (one of the ankle bones) replacement surgery using 3D printing, a first of its kind in south India and second in the country, said the doctors.

It was on August 7, 2020, that an Air India Express flight coming from Dubai skid off the table-top runway of the Calicut International Airport in Malappuram district of Kerala, and crash-landed into a gorge, splitting open aircraft. The plane crash claimed 19 lives, the pilot and co-pilot.

Noufal was one of the grievously injured passengers. From injuries to his head, spin and fractures in both legs, he was so severely injured that his spinal cord was exposed when he was brought to the hospital. After a rigorous treatment and multiple surgeries, he got discharged from the hospital but was still unable to walk due to injuries in his left ankle.

Watch video: When Noufal was discharged from hospital last October

“The talus bone in his ankle was completely damaged in the accident, which is why we did this rare surgery using 3D printing, to replace the lost bone,” Dr Moidu Shameer KP, who performed the surgery, told TNM, adding that the procedure had been previously done only at Baroda in Gujarat.

In order to create the replicate of Noufal’s lost bone, a 3-D image of his right ankle bone was made. This was then superimposed on the CT scan image of his left ankle. Based on this, various models were made and the most suitable and accurate one was chosen to make the implant for the surgery, said a statement from the hospital. The Cobalt-chromium alloy implant was made from Israel and was exported to Kerala for the surgery.


X-ray of ankle: Implant of talus bone (in dark)  visible

According to the doctor, though knee replacement surgeries are common these days, in most of the cases, it is only parts of the bone that are replaced. “But here, we have completely made a new bone from the alloy,” said Dr Moidu, who specialises in joint replacement and sports surgery.

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