3-D Knee Replacement: ‘We Make The Knee Fit You’

By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 700,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States.

In the last several years, patients have had the option to go 3-D. Instead of getting a “knee off the shelf,” an artificial knee can be custom made.

Gary King has been working with a physical therapist on his range of motion. On Jan. 9, the 64-year-old got a new left knee.

Gary King's knee (credit: CBS)

Gary King’s knee (credit: CBS)

“Arthritis had eaten my knee up, bone on bone,” King told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

King had his right knee replaced 10 years ago with a traditional artificial joint. When it was time to change out the left, it was recommended he go 3-D.

Gary King (credit: CBS)

Gary King (credit: CBS)

“The idea here is instead of you having to fit the knee, we make the knee fit you,” said orthopedic oncologist Dr. Ian Dickey at Colorado Limb Consultants at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center (PSL).

He explained CT scans were taken of King’s hip, knee and ankle.

“This side of his joint was collapsing causing his knee to swing inwards,” said Dickey.

CBS4's Kathy Walsh interviews Dr. Ian Dickey (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Kathy Walsh interviews Dr. Ian Dickey (credit: CBS)

A company in Massachusetts, ConforMIS, has the software to work from the scans and develop a 3-D model to then print a custom knee implant and also print the instrumentation to position the implant for the best alignment.

“We knew that we could now turn a game of inches into a game of millimeters,” said Dickey.

King’s surgery was done at PSL.

“Now you look at him and his leg is gun barrel straight,” said Dickey.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“Pain is minimal, absolutely minimal,” said King. “It doesn’t feel any different than my original knee. It’s better, as a matter of fact.”

When asked, “‘How long will the new knee last?'” King said, “‘I’m 64, it’ll last as long as I will.'”

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, demand for total knee replacement surgery is expected to exceed three million by the year 2030.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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