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Published on March 27, 2019

Bill Bradfeldt

Why a Custom-Built Total-Knee Was the “Best Fit”

Anyone who has purchased clothing knows the made-just-for-you feeling of a suit or outfit sure beats an off-the-rack purchase. Especially if there’s no extra cost.

In 2018, when Bill Bradfeldt’s knee arthritis was going from bad to unbearable, he learned of a custom-made medical device for total knee replacement surgery.

“My knee just kept getting worse, and I knew surgery was the only way to truly treat the pain and cure the arthritis,” said Bradfeldt, a Sioux Falls resident who has served as a volunteer with Avera for many years. “When I met with Dr. Ambrose and we were making the plans for the surgery, he said I might make a good candidate for this knee replacement program.”

Few Extra Steps

Bradfeldt’s surgeon was Thomas Ambrose II, MD, Avera Medical Group orthopedic surgeon. Ambrose explained that measurements from a CT scan would allow the manufacturer to craft an implant that fit Bradfeldt’s anatomy – a medical device made for no one’s knee but his.

“He explained that in many cases, a range of devices are considered based on the patient’s height and things like that,” Bradfeldt said. “Non-custom replacement knees are sized to closely fit a person’s knee, but the surgeon still has to fit you to the implant. With my custom-made knee, they took the information from that CT and built one from scratch, one just for me.”

With this customization, there is about six weeks between the CT and the surgery, while the manufacture crafts and delivers it to the hospital.

Post-Surgical Success

Patient-specific medical-device science innovations have improved surgical efficiency without incorporating special equipment.

“One patient, one implant, no robot required. The computer-aided design and manufacturing that go into a custom-knee replacement is thought to be state-of-the art,” Ambrose said. “Subtractive manufacturing is used to make the implants, however additive manufacturing (3-D printing) is used to make patient-specific cutting guides that allow for a precise, individualized fit onto the patient’s surfaces.”

With his surgery a success, Bradfeldt began recovery and rehab, and is well on his way to regain complete mobility – minus the dreadful pain he had last fall.

“I would recommend that people considering a knee replacement look at this option,” he said. “The recovery and rehab was the same. But I did have more confidence knowing this knee was made specifically for me and me alone.”

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