Can you get a new, customized knee?
Posted January 11, 2018 1:42 p.m. EST
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Mike Gehring describes himself as "always being on the go."
The 56-year-old Okeechobee County, Florida, law enforcement officer, farm owner and married father of five daughters spends virtually every waking hour on his feet.
Tending to his acreage.
Playing sports with his two youngest daughters who still live at home.
"About the only time I'm sitting is when I'm driving -- or horseback riding," he says.
In recent years, however, Gehring's quality of life has been vastly diminished because of unrelenting knee pain.
"My right knee had been injured twice and my left knee -- in compensating for the injury -- had degenerated badly."
A friend who recently underwent a knee replacement procedure told Gehring about a technological advancement that now creates a customized knee joint -- one built to the patient's exact anatomical specifications.
Developed by the medical manufacturer ConforMIS, the joint is produced via advanced image scanning and 3-D printing, which results in precise wax molds used to form the metal components of the knees.
"It's state-of-the art technology," says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Edward Rossario, of Coastal Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida. He is among the nation's first surgeons to use ConforMIS technology on his patients -- and now teaches visiting surgeons about its many advantages in his facility's physician education lab.
Rossario notes that another appealing aspect of ConforMIS is that, in addition to the precise knee mold, the surgeon is also provided with custom "cutting jigs" for each procedure.
The cutting jigs provide microscopically accurate mapping for where and how deep incisions need to be.
"It's like a 'stencil' for the surgeon," Rossario explains.
Among the other advantages he cites:
-- More of the patient's healthy bone is preserved.
-- There's significantly less blood loss.
-- It can be used for either degenerative arthritic conditions or to correct congenital deformities -- typical total recovery time is cut in half (six weeks to three months with ConforMIS versus four to six months with traditional replacement implants)
"When Dr. Rossario presented me with the customized option, I was sold," recalls Gehring.
In April 2017, he had both knees replaced -- in the same week:
"I did the right one on a Tuesday and the left on Friday."
But as soon as he stood up on the same day as the initial surgery, he says, "I knew I'd made the right decision. The pain I'd felt in the joint itself was gone. All I had to deal with was manageable post-surgical pain."
Gehring spent three weeks "working hard" at a rehab facility and was able to return to his job just a month after surgery.
"Recovery was just like Dr. Rossario said it would be."
Late last year, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gregory Martin, of Preferred Orthopedics of the Palm Beaches, authored a data-driven study published in Arthroplasty Today that showed ConforMIS knee replacement recipients required less follow-up care and incurred lower post-surgical rehab costs.
Two other Palm Beach County orthopedic surgeons -- Dr. Elvis Grandic, of Orthopaedic Surgery Associates in Boynton Beach, and Dr. Manish Gupta, of SurgiCare of Boca Raton -- also perform knee replacement procedures with ConforMIS devices.
Rossario says patients have been overwhelmingly pleased with their ConforMIS knee replacements nationwide.
"Industry surveys show about 80 percent of patients are fully satisfied with a traditional knee replacement -- but with ConforMIS, it's been 97 percent."
Steve Dorfman writes for The Palm Beach Post. Email: sdorfman(at)pbpost.com.
Story Filed By Cox Newspapers
For Use By Clients of the New York Times News Service