The osteoarthritis in Jonnie Thomas' left knee was so bad that she even found it difficult to walk down the hallway in her home.
As the 2011-2012 president of the Yuma Sunrise Rotary Club, leading the meetings was a struggle.
“Standing up for 45 minutes to an hour in front of the group was painful,” Thomas said.
She found herself shopping more online. “I wouldn't go anywhere,” she explained. “Any place I had to go, I had to mentally think, how far do I have to walk to get there?”
Thomas, a retired marketing manager, limped in an effort to alleviate the severe pain in her knee.
Having reached her breaking point, she decided to have joint replacement surgery. She researched options and found the ConforMIS iTotal G2 Knee Replacement System, the only patient-specific total knee replacement available on the market today.
Thomas discovered that only one orthopedic surgeon in Yuma used the system, Dr. Rodney Henderson.
With traditional total knee replacements, implants come in generic sizes to fit everyone. A surgeon picks a size and then cuts the bone and tissue to fit the patient.
“It may fit fine or it might be a little too big, a little too small,” Henderson said.
One in 5 people who get a knee replacement complain that it doesn't fit properly, he said.
“The implant may shift and it feels mechanical, not natural. People complain of a clanking noise when the metal hits the plastic,” Henderson said.
ConforMIS is unique in that each implant is designed specifically for each patient based off of a 3-D scan that's taken of their own knee. From there, the implant and even the surgical tools used by the surgeon are customized for a specific patient. It's shipped to the surgeon in a FedEx-size box for surgery.
“It's kind of like a suit that's been tailored,” Henderson noted. “With ConforMIS, it wouldn't fit anyone else's knee.”
And because the instruments have never been used, the potential for disease contamination and infection is lower, he noted.
In September, Henderson replaced Thomas' arthritic knee with a customized one. She was up and walking that same day. Three days later, she was out of the hospital. And three months later, she was walking around her block without pain.
Because a customized implant requires up to 20 percent less removal of bone and tissue, the incision is smaller and the operation is shorter, resulting in a faster recovery time.
However, Henderson pointed out that the recovery period varies from person to person, depending on the patient's activity level.
Thomas felt the difference with her first step after surgery.
“I had pain from the surgery but that grueling pain from having bone on bone wasn't there,” she said.
Others noticed too. “Everyone was shocked. ‘Wow, what have you done? You look so much younger.' I didn't realize the pain showed on my face. Now I see photos and I can see the pain in my face and I didn't know that.”
Her life is “100 percent better,” Thomas said. “I would do it again if I had to because my qualify of life has improved so much.”
She thinks shopping is “wonderful” again and has no second thoughts about going out. “I go to the gym, getting in and out of car is no longer painful, shopping is fine.”
With a son living in Paris, Thomas is considering a visit to France, something she wouldn't have considered before her surgery.
She's grateful that a Yuma doctor uses this state-of-the-art technology.
“The thing I like about Dr. Henderson is that he is always going to seminars and learning the latest techniques,” Thomas said.
Henderson explained that surgical techniques are constantly changing and he feels an obligation to keep up for his patients.
“Patients want the latest and greatest. If I think it will benefit patients I will offer it because I want the best outcome possible. The best technique, the best technology, the best implant design and quality – that's what's best for the patient,” he said.
However, Henderson explained that a customized implant is not for everyone. It's more appropriate for those with higher levels of activity.
“For for the 85-year-old female who's been using a walker for years, I don't think that patient will feel the difference. It's a much better choice for active patients who want to regain all their activities from before – hiking, skiing, golfing.”
The procedure is covered by most insurance.
“You would think it's more expensive, but it's actually a little cheaper,” Henderson said.
He explained that the 3-D model is based on an CT scan that costs $300 compared to an MRI that can costs thousands of dollars.
Henderson's private practice is located at 2281 W. 24th St., Suite 1.
For more information, go to myconformisknee.com or www.rodhendersonmd.com and click on the “Specialties” tab and then the “iTotal” tab. Or call Henderson's office at (928) 726-2990.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or (928) 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.