New 3D knee replacements are a better fit for patients

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- In the past ten years the number of total knee replacements in the U.S. has doubled, and many of those patients are much younger than ever before.

Replacement knees typically come off the shelf in several sizes, but they don't always fit right; causing pain and other complications.

But now, new 3D technology allows doctors to make knees that are the perfect fit.

"It was bone on bone and a lot of severe pain," said Don Plum, a retired plumber.

A few months ago, Plum could hardly stand up because his knees ached. Now, after getting his new ‘3D knees,' he walks and even runs, pain free.

"I can bend it much better then I used to,” said Plum.

Plum had knee replacement surgery done on both knees at the same time, after a CAT scan made a 3D image of his knees.

A 3D printer made two new knees that were a precise fit.

Orthopedic Surgeon Richard Buch says the 3D knees offer a lot of advantages over typical replacement knees, which come in several sizes but seldom fit a patient exactly, and can be a source of recurring pain after surgery.

"This matches their anatomy, and then the bone that you're taking off is less than it was with a standard knee," said Dr. Buch.

Other advantages to the 3D knee include a shorter hospital stay, quicker recovery time, less pain and more movement.

"I think it is technology at its best," said Plum.

3D knee replacement is covered by most insurance companies.

Projections are that by 2030, 3 to 4 million knee replacement surgeries will be done every year in the United States.


TOPIC: 3D Knee
REPORT: #3802

KNEE REPLACEMENT: With the knees being the body's largest joint, it's important to take care of them, but sometimes normal wear and tear can take a heavy toll on knees and surgery may have to be performed. Knee replacement surgery typically takes place after damage from an injury or arthritis. The surgery is a safe step to take after medications and physical aids may no longer be of use. Knee replacement surgery was first performed in 1968 and has evolved into a common and successful form of treatment for knee pain, with approximately more than 600,000 knee replacements performed each year in the United States. (Source:

CAUSES: Knee pain can be caused by many different problems. There are a number of injuries that can affect different parts of the knee like the ligaments, cartilage and tendons. An ACL injury occurs when the anterior cruciate ligament, one of the knees four ligaments, tears and often happens in athletes when they change sudden direction. Tendinitis is another form of injury that causes irritation and inflammation in one of the knees' primary tendons. Injuries aren't the only reason you may need knee replacement; there are many forms of arthritis that often cause the knee to be replaced. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis found in the knee and mostly occurs in the elderly after the cartilage in the knee has deteriorated. (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY: 3D printers are emerging as an effective way of producing materials for many different functions and are now being utilized for medical purposes like the 3D knee. In the past, the parts for knee replacement surgery caused pain and didn't always form well to the needed area. With the new 3D printed replacement knees, pain is reduced and the perfect fitting knee can be created. The newly printed knees fit the patient naturally which makes it much more comfortable compared to ordinary replacement knees which come in different sizes that are pre-determined. With the new 3D knee, patients are given a total knee replacement and sent home the same day. (Source: Dr. Richard Buch)


Richard G. Buch, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon
The Dallas Limb Restoration Center
Phone: (214) 208-5500

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