An Australian-first surgery took place at Southern Highlands Private Hospital on Monday.
The knee replacement, although it sounds quite common, was the first of its kind on Aussie soil.
Performed by orthopedic surgeon Dr Nick Hartnell, the knee replacement was specifically tailored to the patient through 3D mapping and printing.
In typical knee replacement surgeries, surgeons select implants from a range of sizes and shapes.
But the new purpose-built knee implants are created especially for the patient, which Dr Hartnell said simplified and streamlined the surgical procedure.
“If you come in for a [regular] knee replacement we’ve got all these options to choose from but we are limited,” Dr Hartnell said.
“We have to find the best fit for [the patient] but there might be compromises so what this does is custom make a replacement for you knees.”
Designed by Conformis, the knee personalised replacement is mapped after a CT scan and printed to precisely match the patients original knee.
“It is designed on the computer to have an absolutely perfect range of motion and everything else,” Dr Hartnell said.
“There are millions of different options in terms of knee sizes and shapes so we are trying to reproduce normal anatomy with computer re-modelling.”
While this process may sound like a time consuming one, the turn around is only five weeks. “From the time a patient needs a knee replacement we can have this knee printed and ready to go in five weeks,” Dr Hartnell said.
The new technology also reduces the number of trays and equipment needed in the operating theatre.
Southern Highlands Private Hospital theatre manager Glenn Wallace said it somewhat streamlined the operating process.
“Instead of having a trolley full of different knee sizes and five or six trays [of equipment] we just have one or two trays,” he said.
More than 50,000 knee replacements have been designed by Conformis in America so far, and Dr Hartnell said he hoped to see this type of knee replacement become more popular in Australia.
“It’s no more expensive than a regular knee replacement but it is custom for the patient so to me it’s just perfect,” he said.
“It’s not new technology, it’s been used for about a decade in America, but it is new to us here in Australia, and it is really cool to have the first surgery in a regional town like Bowral.”
The theatre was buzzing with excitement prior to the procedure, with visitors from Conformis travelling all the way from Boston to see the first Australian surgery.
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