By: Austin North
Technology is constantly changing the way we approach healthcare. Advances in technology are improving medical procedures, patient outcomes and cost savings at a rapid pace. Companies like Da Vinci, Reven Pharmaceuticals, Optio and ConforMIS are leading the way for patient care. As an example, ConforMIS specializes in custom implants for use in knee replacement surgery, with a high-tech imaging process that allows each patient to get a custom, personally modeled knee—technology that is changing the way surgeons approach knee surgery. This implant is created to be an exact replica of your previously healthy knee, with an individualized fit that eliminates compromise in total knee surgery.
Currently over five million people are living with total knee replacements; annually there are 1.2 million knee replacements done worldwide, and according to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 700,000 people in the United States have knee replacement surgeries every year. One of the most common reasons for knee replacement surgery is osteoarthritis, known as “degenerate joint disease,” which can be more painful and uncomfortable as one ages. Upwards of 30.8 million adults have osteoarthritis in some form. You can lower your risk of getting arthritis and needing a knee replacement through health lifestyle choices like exercise and weight management. It’s important to see your family physician or orthopedic physician early when painful symptoms begin. If at some point it is determined that you would benefit from a knee replacement, have no fear, total knee arthroplasty is a common procedure with a high success rate in terms of patients feeling significantly less pain and discomfort after the procedure.
Orthopedic surgeons endure rigorous training, some in residency and some in fellowship after residency, to specifically learn how to perform total joint arthroplasty. In El Paso, we are lucky to have many qualified and outstanding orthopedic surgeons, as well as first-class hospitals like Hospitals of Providence and Foundation Surgical Hospital. Dr. James Bean, from Sun City Orthopaedic and Hand Surgery Specialists, is a long-time El Pasoan who has been in practice for over 20 years and continues to improve his skills by keeping up with technology that benefits his patients. Dr. Bean performs patient-specific custom knee replacement and believes that it is the next step in improving the lives of his patients after surgery. Advanced imaging techniques, precise alignment and patient-specific bone molds are used to form the metal components of the pre-navigated knee. 3-D printed instruments and implants are made to exact specifications, with custom “cutting jigs,” to ensure the right bony cuts are made, ensuring less bone loss, less bleeding and overall a more natural knee.
According to Dr. Bean, “No two knees are alike.” ConforMIS says, “Femoral and tibial implants are individually sized and shaped to fit each patient’s unique anatomy.” It boasts many advantages to your average, “off-the-shelf” knee implant—more of the patient’s healthy bone is preserved and significantly less blood is lost during the procedure, with the recovery time only half as long as traditionally expected. What was four to six months of recovery with an “off-the-shelf” knee, is cut down to an expected six weeks to three months with custom implants. As such, patients require less follow-up care and on average experience lower post-surgery costs.
If the idea of getting out of pain and back to an active life sounds like something you or someone you know hopes for, then it’s time to take action. Do your research and talk to your physician, don’t be afraid to ask for the latest and greatest—you will be happy you did. Dr. Bean says, “This technology is a natural progression and improves the satisfaction of my patients and I will continue to do what I think is best for my patients.”