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Custom designed knee replacements gaining traction

(This story first aired July 23, 2014.) 

Increasingly people are losing interest in the "one size fits all" approach for medical care. Sixty-eight year old Gary Marcum knew he didn't want it when he faced his second knee replacement. The first one was  a partial, but the recovery lasted months and he was in a lot of pain.

When searching for a better way, the Tipp City, Ohio man, an avid golfer, saw a commercial with a golf professional who was back out on the course just five weeks after he had knee replacement surgery. The commercial was advertising customized knee implants unlike off the shelf models that come in six to ten standard sizes.

ConforMIS makes the customized implants


Cincinnati orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Swank did Marcum's surgery. He says, "I have a lot of interest in the technology because doing things specifically for a patient makes a whole lot of sense to me."

Here's how it works:

  • A CT scan creates a 3D map of the knee
  • 3D printing technology makes a precise wax mold used to form the metal component of the total knee
  • This results in a total knee implant, the exact shape and size of the patient's knee
  • The implants, spacers and cutting guides are delivered to the operating room

If the knee is not perfectly aligned that can lead to back, hip and ankle problems. Marcum says three days after surgery he was walking up and down steps at his three-story home and five weeks later he was back on the golf course. He said he didn't take any pain medication.