Dr. Drew Lighthart creates 3D-printed implants for hip, knee replacements


An orthopedic surgeon at Teton Orthopaedics in Jackson Hole, Wyo., is modernizing the way doctors perform hip and knee replacements, Jackson Hole News reported July 13. 

Drew Lighthart, MD, has partnered with printing company Conformis to create 3D implants for knees and hips, each of which is custom designed to fit a patient's needs. 

"The whole idea of a knee replacement is it's a resurfacing of the ends of the bone," Dr. Lighthart told Jackson Hole News. "And most implants are made based on a collection of historical patient data. This is made based on an actual 3D model of the patient's own bones from a CT scan."

Though the 3D-printed replacements are more exact and personalized, they are also more costly and take longer to manufacture. 

Dr. Lighthart said that because of those drawbacks, he has had few patients wanting to try the technology so far. 

It takes five or six weeks just to design the implant, making the wait for an actual replacement several months. 

Dr. Lighthart said he hopes once more people become aware of the new technology, it will increase demand. 

While Dr. Lighthart is working with Conformis now after seeing the company's patient success record, he explained he does not like hopping on bandwagon surgical trends, and it took him a long time to decide on the partnership. 

He recently treated his first patient with a customizable knee replacement and told the news outlet the patient is "doing great." 

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