TMC patient finds new freedom with 3-D Knee-replacement


“It’s so much like my natural knee that I couldn’t believe it,” said Barbara Wagner who received a custom-made knee replacement at Tucson Medical Center.

Serious knee pain is felt with every step and can significantly impact quality of life. Wagner was informed 10 years ago that she needed to have a both knees replaced.

She had the left knee replaced soon after the recommendation, but experienced complications. “It was very painful, so I decided to have cortisone injections on my right knee instead of surgery, which worked for a while.”

She received relief from cortisone therapy for several years. After moving to Arizona, the pain in her right knee was increasing. “The shots were becoming less effective. I was walking regularly with a limp and I needed to walk with a cane.” Wagner sought new options, and found much had changed in a decade.

“In the last 10 years, there have been extraordinary advancements in technology, implant materials and surgical techniques,” said Dr. Ali Dalal, an orthopaedic surgeon at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute who specializes in hip and knee replacements.

“The advancements have resulted in a better implant fit, which often means greater comfort, mobility and patient satisfaction,” said Dr. Dalal.

One such advancement involves producing a custom-made, knee replacement implant to fit the patient’s unique anatomy. “Generally, surgeons must choose an off-the-shelf implant from a limited range of sizes,” said Dr. Dalal. “With this technology, the implant is custom-made based on an advanced 3-D CT scan of the patient’s knee.”

Dr. Dalal explained the procedure and options to Wagner. “I have all the confidence in the world in Dr. Dalal and I also did my own research.”

Wagner had the required scan and the custom implant was produced and sent to TMC, where Wagner had her replacement surgery.

Recently, Wagner walked down the hall of Tucson Orthopaedic Institute with a smile and without assistance. “I can walk without pain,” she exclaimed. “It effects my entire body – I can walk without a limp and without my cane.”

“Ms. Wagner’s positive outcome is typical of what patients experience with this technology,” said Dr. Dalal. “I’m also pleased with her results and look forward to providing this option for more patients.”

What is next for Wagner? “Everything is so much easier, from walking my dog to making stained-glass crafts, my favorite hobby.” Plans she has put off for some time are now in the works. “My son and I are planning a hike – I haven’t been in more than 10 years.”

Wagner also plans on taking courses in glass fusion, pottery and woodworking. While these hobbies may not involve extreme physical activity, she said the successful surgery really made a difference. “It’s hard to describe just how debilitating bone-on-bone knee pain really is. The custom knee replacement has given me the freedom to be more comfortable in everything I do.”

See the Conformis website for more information about the custom-made total knee replacement implants.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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