Health Beat

Health Beat: Build your own 3D knee

Health Beat: Building a 3D knee

ATLANTA - Less than a year ago, climbing up a flight of stairs would have been impossible for Amanda Fair-Evans, 48.

"I couldn't even get out of the car," she said, "and I was like, 'What is this?'"

The pain in her left knee was unbearable. She tried medication and cortisone shots and finally begged her doctor for surgery.

"I have no quality of life. I have grandkids and I want to play with my grandkids. Please give me a new knee," Fair-Evans said.

Dr. Mathew Pombo, an orthopedic surgeon at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center in Atlanta, Georgia, felt Fair-Evans would be a great candidate for a personalized replacement knee.

A standing CT scan of a patient's leg captures the alignment, followed by a three-dimensional printing process.

"We can input components into the computer and print off a specific femur and a specific tibia that fits the bone perfectly," Pombo explained.

It takes about six weeks for a medical company to create the custom knee. During surgery, doctors remove the damaged joint. Then using individually designed tools, surgeons insert the new joint and cement it in.

"It's basically like putting a train on perfectly aligned train tracks. It should wear better," Pombo said.

Five months later, Fair-Evans had her other knee replaced. Now, she's back to doing the things she loves to do.

"Taking long walks, playing with my grandkids and dancing," she said. "I haven't danced in a long time."

Pombo said there is a faster recovery, less blood loss and easier range of motion of patients having the personalized 3D knee surgery.

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