Colorado Springs doctor pioneering knee surgery technology

New 3D printing helps to make knee replacements fit more like patients orginial knee. Conformis Company

A major medical advancement thanks to 3D printers.

More than 600,000 people have knee replacement surgery each year, but most knee implants are generically made and come in limited size ranges.

One doctor right here in the Springs has become the first in Southern Colorado to use 3D printing to create a more customized knee implant.

“What we are able to do is make a customized knee that is unique to your own anatomy,” Dr. Ronald Royce, Knee Surgeon at Front Range Orthopedics, said.

3D printing sounds like something from the future, but it’s not. It’s a new way doctors are making knee replacements fit better in their patients.

“What we think with the new total knee, with Conformis, it takes less of the bone away and it’s more tissue sparing and helps patient to recover a grade faster,” Royce said.

Doctors use computers and CT scans to produce a more custom-fit knee implant.

“The computer scan looks at the patient’s normal anatomy on the thigh bone and femur and it measures the curvature of the thigh bone and the computer is then able to match that anatomy with the total knee replacement piece,” Royce said.

This whole mapping process takes about four to six weeks to do before surgery, but patients say it’s worth the wait.

“This knee almost from day one was night and day difference. It moved just like my other knee, less pain and locking up,” Michele Budd of Fountain said.

Michele had her first knee replacement done with a generic knee in 2011.

“I had so much pain from the other one I think because it did not fit the same. You know its different implants it’s a different procedure,” Budd said.

This September she had her left knee replaced using the new 3D scan and says her recovery time has been faster and easier.

“It feels like your real knee does before any arthritis. So your back to sprinting down the halls, walking at a fast pace, with no pain, no locking up, no issues,” Budd said.

Royce has done about 25 of these surgeries so far in Southern Colorado, and says there is no price difference between a regular knee replacement and a 3D custom knee replacement.

He says depending on the patient’s health, their recovery time can be faster than a patient who had a regular knee replacement.

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