Our desire for designer now includes artificial joints. Marketed as ‘custom fit’... do you know what you’re getting?
“This would be typical - what patients are considering a custom knee,” says Dr. Ed Humbert, orthopedic surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
A custom joint typically refers to a guide or template. It helps doctors mark the precise location to place your new joint.
“The implant itself is not the custom part. The guide that we get designed for that patient is the custom part of the knee,” says Dr. Humbert.
Here’s how it works:
“The patient can go get an MRI or CAT scan and these orthopedic companies will make a digital image of their bone, which this would be typically a femur bone, which is part of the knee replacement that we resurface. The custom knee is really the guide that is made specially to fit geometrically, locks into the femur and marks point where we have to make the bone cuts to put the implant in properly,” says Dr. Humbert.
Some people might do better with a personalized joint. Including those who are very, very small or extremely large. Prior surgeries are also something to consider.
“There’s patients that have previous traumas- and rods and plates and screws- it’s a big benefit to not have to remove that previous hardware. That would be a massive surgery. We can keep the old parts, keep the old plates and rods and use custom guides,” says Dr. Humbert.
Computer generated or custom fits should not be confused with specialized joints, including ones marketed for sports or women. Those refer to implants themselves. The key is to ‘customization’’ may lie in working with your doctor.
“My best hip or knee is the one that says three or six months after their surgery they don’t realize they have it,” says Dr. Humbert.