Fort Valley woman receives innovative 3-D printed knee

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Fort Valley woman receives innovative 3-D printed knee

Nicholas Wooten

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The scars on her knees tell a story of renewal and relief.

In December of last year, and again this past May, Kathy Magill underwent two innovative medical procedures in which she received 3-D knee implants.

Living on a farm out in Fort Valley, the 67-year-old Magill’s constant rough activity and later chronic arthritis, took its toll on her joints.

“I’ve always used my own chainsaw and hole saw. I never did the kind of things that babied my body,” said Magill.

Magill put off going to see a doctor as her knees deteriorated over the course of several years. However, her inability to perform simple tasks, such as standing in the kitchen to cook a meal, drove her to seek medical assistance.

“It kills me to have to ask someone to do something for me. I hate that,” she said.

Magill found help at Coliseum Northside Hospital. It was from recommendation by the Coliseum Northside nursing staff that she came in contact with the surgeon who would eventually replace her knees, Dr. Bill Barnes of Macon’s Piedmont Orthopaedic Complex.

Magill wanted the process to be non-invasive and was told by Dr. Barnes that his method was close to that.

“I didn’t ask all the details. I didn’t want to know, but he said he would leave as many muscles alone as he could.” The talk of a custom made knee also intrigued Magill.

ComfortMIS, a Massachusetts-based biotech company, developed a process that uses 3-D printing to create patient-specific knees.

The creation of the 3-D knee begins with a computed tomography (CT) scan that travels from the hip through the affected knee and down to the ankle, which digitally recreates the mechanical axis of the leg. Afterwards, the leg is then re-aligned and software is used to map the joint. Then the lower half of the implant is shaped to match the tibia.

“It fits like a glove [and] it’s the most consistently stable total joint I’ve done in thirty years” said Dr. Barnes about the implant.

This process creates an individualized knee made from the same material as standard implants that is both sturdy and flexible.

“Its stability is the same full extension as it is [while flexed]” Dr. Barnes said.

Magill hasn’t experienced any serious issues following the surgery and has resumed her fast-paced lifestyle. She’s returned to working on the farm and her hobby of bird dog training. Despite recently taking a tumble and breaking some scar tissue, Magill got right back up with no damage to the implant.

“It moved better than it did before,” she said.

Magill said that she doesn’t hesitate to do whatever she wants “I have one old horse left. It’s not my horse–it’s my husband’s, but I could ride it if I wanted to be cruel to the poor old guy. He’s 30 years old.”

Others, including Dr. Barnes, have taken notice of Magill’s renewed independence.

“That’s what makes me want to keep doing this,” said Barnes. “Why would you ever want to stop doing this when you have people that appreciate that?”

 

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