Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Knackered Knees

3D imaging and printing advances bring promise of personalised knee replacements

23 August 2021

Knackered Knees

Humans endure a variety of problems as a result of walking upright – clear proof we were not intelligently designed. Aside from back problems and possible birth issues, damaged knees are a drawback of life on two feet. In fact, it’s estimated nearly half of us will suffer knee osteoarthritis at some point. Replacing worn out knees with artificial ones is a last resort. Another option is to implant a supportive plate into the existing joint before it’s kaput. But, outcomes of such surgery are often disappointing. The problem is, knee shapes vary but the plates don’t and a good fit isn’t guaranteed. Advances in 3D imaging of joints and in 3D printing, however, may soon enable production of personalised plates – like the one illustrated. Tailored to fit a patient precisely, the plates will hopefully provide a more comfortable and flexible way to overcome this evolutionary shortcoming than was previously possible.

Written by Ruth Williams

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