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Health Beat: 3D knee replacement

Published On: Jul 11 2014 06:04:13 PM EDT

In the past 10 years, the number of total knee replacements in the United States has doubled, and many of those patients are much younger than ever before.


A few months ago, retired pipe fitter Don Plum could hardly stand up because his knees ached.

"It was bone on bone and a lot of severe pain," Plum said.

After getting his new '3D knees,' he now walks and even runs pain-free.


Plum had knee replacement surgery done on both knees at the same time. After a cat scan made a 3D image of his knees, a 3D printer made two new knees that were a precise fit.

Dr. Richard Buch, orthopaedic surgeon at the Dallas Limb Restoration Center, said the 3D knees offer a lot of advantages over typical replacement knees, which come in several sizes but seldom fit a patient exactly, and can be a source of recurring pain after surgery.

"It matches their anatomy, and the bone you are taking off is less than it was with a standard knee," Buch said.

Other advantages to the 3D knee include a shorter hospital stay, quicker recovery time, less pain and more movement.

Just ask Plum, who said that, thanks to his 3D knees, he can do anything he wants.
3D knee replacement is covered by most insurance companies and projections are that by 2030, three to four million knee replacement surgeries will be done every year in the United States.

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