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Published on Jan 10, 2015
It was accident upon injury that took down Phoebe Ohl’s knee. Following four surgeries, she lost faith in its stability.
“Because it would freeze up on me or else it would buckle on me and I was always afraid of falling,” says Ohl.
An engineer by training, the prospect of a custom-made knee helped her with decide to get a joint replacement.
“Especially since I’m kind of small. I didn’t want to have something that was just plucked off the shelf like small, medium and large. I like the whole concept that it was designed around my own body.”
Dr. George Markovich is Phoebe’s surgeon.
“This is the only knee that is actually customized to that patient’s anatomy. Truly individually matched,” explains Dr. Markovich, an orthopedic surgeon on medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.
Off-the-shelf joints aren’t always the best match. Molded using anatomical information from mostly men, they are limited in sizes. So choosing the right implant involves making compromises. It’s especially true for the female knee.
“Some the sizes were very clunky and large in certain diameters, they didn’t really match women as well as men. Women make up about 65% of the knee replacements done,” says Dr. Markovich.
Now artificial knees are going hi-tech; using digital imaging and 3D models to create a perfectly matched joint.
“The way it does that, is it gets CT data and very accurately manufactures an implant with a 3D printer to match that particular patient’s anatomy. And also getting CT data of the joint above and below, the hip and the ankle to get all the alignment as quick as can be before we even enter the operating room.
Surgery is quicker and spares more of the patient’s bone. Instead of manipulating bone to accept the implant, the implant is designed to fit the bone.
“There is less bleeding, there’s less surgical time, there’s advantages you see right off the bat.”
Less than three months post-surgery, Ohl is already feeling the advantages.
“I’m not having any freezing up or anything,” says Ohl.
She expects her custom knee to carry her far into the future.
View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/
Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.