Knee surgery revamped

Published 3:01 pm Monday, August 25, 2014

3-D imaging creates individualized replacement

According to the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 1 million knee replacement surgeries take place each year. The majority of those surgeries are done using a traditional method developed during the 1950s.

Ironton resident Peggy Harman, however, become one of the first Americans to try a new method that utilizes 3D imaging of the knee to construct a replacement knee individually fitted for its host.

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“I was getting to the point where I knew I was going to have to do the replacement,” Harman said. “When I brought it up to my doctor, she suggested I try this new way of doing reconstructive surgery called Conformis.”

Harman’s surgeon Dr. Laura Reese at Ashland Orthopedics Associates is one of only a handful of doctors in the country who uses Conformis for knee replacements.

“I’ve been using the Conformis for around a year now,” Reese said. “It is a great advancement. With the Conformis patients recovery times seem to be smoother and quicker.”

In fact Harman was able to climb steps and return to her jazzercise classes just three weeks after receiving her new knee.

“I’ve had both hips replaced and I kind of expected to be rehabbing for a substantial period of time,” Harman said. “But, this knee was much easier than either hip and I was able to do most of the things I was before just a few weeks after the surgery.”

Reese said the good thing about Conformis is that 80 to 85 percent of patients needing new knees are candidates for the new method. She did warn that deciding to undergo surgery is a very serious decision.

“Knee replacements are hard,” Reese said. “It’s painful, recovery can be rigorous and it is just a hideous inconvenience. So I always tell people that if it is just some slight discomfort and you can make it without the surgery than that really is the best option.”

But, some patients like Harman cannot afford to go without a new knee and continue to enjoy daily life. For those patients Conformis has been a worthwhile choice. Of course the product is only part of the equation.

“The new knee has been wonderful,” Harman said. “I’m so lucky to have a great doctor that I trust. Without Dr. Reese I wouldn’t be able to walk today. I’ve also been lucky to have an excellent physical therapist too so I owe a lot to them.”