DENVER (CBS4) – An EMT at Purgatory Resort is back on the ski slopes with new mettle, thanks to a revolutionary new metal implant. In November, Dee Dee Carlson had a bone in her ankle replaced with a custom, 3D printed titanium bone.

(credit: Dee Dee Carlson)

Just three months after her November surgery, Dee Dee Carlson of Durango was able to ski again. She has struggled with ankle problems for years and hopes this is finally the answer.

“Ready? One, two, three,” said Danielle Lewis, athletic trainer at UCHealth Foot and Ankle Center Stapleton.

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She was helping analyze Dee Dee’s gait in the center’s clinical motion and performance lab.

“We just want you to walk as normally as possible,” said Lewis.

The 63 year old is nearly there. And that’s amazing, because for years, she limped along in excruciating pain.

“It was just bone on bone,’ she told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

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Twenty years of playing soccer and running trails had taken their toll. Dee Dee had both ankles replaced. But seven years later, she was hurting again. The talus bone connecting her left foot and ankle was falling apart.

“Dying because of a lack of blood supply to that bone,” she explained.

“That bone had lost its structure and therefore the entire foot was out of position,” said Dr. Kenneth Hunt, orthopedic surgeon and medical director of the center.

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Hunt offered Dee Dee a sort of sci-fi solution.

Using a CT scan of Dee Dee’s right talus bone, Additive Orthopaedics in New Jersey created a custom, 3D printed talus made of cobalt chrome and titanium.

“It was created for her ankle, for her anatomy,” said Hunt.

It has titanium mesh on the bottom.

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“Bone can actually fuse to it,” he said.

Three months after her surgery, Dee Dee, was back on the slopes at Purgatory.

Both Hunt and Dee Dee are pleased with her recovery. She has minimal pain and an excellent prognosis Hunt attributes to personalized care.

The procedure is offered by other orthopedic surgeons and medical centers, but this is the first time it has been done at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.

Kathy Walsh

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