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My tailor-made knee | Health | Express.co.uk


Kevin’s op has given him a new lease of life/DANIEL LYNCH

Tuesday August 21,2012

By Sophie Goodchild

KEVIN Budd had no idea his footballing talent would leave him with crippling arthritis in his 40s. Even walking became a challenge for the former Manchester City defender because his knee joint was so painful. “Since giving up football I’d got lazy and put on lots of weight,” says Kevin, who retired from the game in 1986 and is now a successful businessman.

“So I started on a fitness regime playing tennis up to five times a week but I kept feeling this grinding sensation every time I played. And the recovery period was becoming longer.”

Last summer the pain became intolerable for Kevin, who lives in Uxbridge, Middlesex, with wife Gayle and son Harry, 16. So he sought help from Ian McDermott, a surgeon at London Sports Orthopaedics.

A scan confirmed that Kevin, now 50, had osteoarthritis, a condition affecting around eight million people in the UK. The disease is caused by wear and tear on the tissue, or cartilage, which covers the joints. The cartilage is essential for the joints to move smoothly but it can get damaged or wear away. The joints then become inflamed and painful.

In Kevin’s case the damage was much worse than normal for someone his age. As a young footballer he had torn his cartilage after pushing his body to the limit on the pitch. Instead of just repairing the damage surgeons had removed an entire section of joint tissue from his left knee.

They are so fit and strong that they manage to get back to top level function and continue playing

Ian McDermott, a surgeon at London Sports Orthopaedics

“Many top level athletes injure their knees and end up seeing a surgeon who removes their torn knee cartilages instead of repairing them,” says Mr McDermott, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon specialising in knee and hip problems.

“They are so fit and strong that they manage to get back to top level function and continue playing. But they are completely destroying their knees and they end up paying for it in later years when they end up with premature knee arthritis.” Mr McDermott repaired what cartilage was left but warned Kevin he couldn’t guarantee how long it would last.

In January Kevin returned as his arthritis was still causing him pain. It was then Mr McDermott told him about a revolutionary procedure, a tailor-made knee joint which would eliminate the severe pain and stiffness.

In March Kevin became the first UK patient to undergo the pioneering operation. This new type of implant, called the ConforMIS, is designed to mirror the exact contours of the patient’s knee and also mimic its mechanics. The ConforMIS is not yet available on the NHS but the hope is it will be soon.

Around 90,000 knee replacements are carried out in Britain every year. The knee joint is the largest and most complex joint in the body, which makes surgery a challenge. The implants used by surgeons come in different sizes but not in different shapes. This means the patient’s knee bone has to be cut to fit the artificial knee, says Mr McDermott.

Some newer designs of knees do have patient-specific templates which are used to ensure precise sizing. However Mr McDermott says the implants are still “one shape fits all” in reality. Because the ConforMIS is custom-made it functions more like a normal knee.

He says: “The ConforMIS knee means that we have to take away much less bone which is important when it comes to any potential further operations. The procedure is less invasive and the prosthesis matches the patient’s own knee.”

A detailed CT scan was taken of Kevin’s knee and turned into a 3D model. The contours were then “mapped” to create an exact replica of the joint. During the procedure, lasting just over an hour, the implant is fixed to the bone ends.

The £14,000 operation was carried out at the London Bridge Hospital and Kevin was back at his desk the following Friday.

“After about three weeks I had physiotherapy and now I’ve started cycling up to 15 miles a day. I’ve got my life back thanks to my new knee.”

For more information on the ConforMIS implant visit http://www.sportsortho.co.uk