7 Healthcast: Knee implant
"I grew up skiing in New Hampshire at the age of 2, ski racing at age 4, ski jumping at age 8," Hutchinson said.
But Rich's passion for the sport took a toll on his knees.
He developed severe arthritis and had to have most of the meniscus in his right knee removed.
"The last 6 years or so I've been rubbing bone on bone creating arthritis and the degeneration of my knee," Hutchinson said.
At 40-years-old, Rich was too young for a total knee replacement, so his doctor recommended something new and less invasive, a customized knee implant.
"The novelty of this implant is that it can be done with a very minimally invasive technique and it's joint sparing," said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian McKeon of New England Baptist Hospital. "It doesn't really involve any type of re-section or any type of aggressive type of surgery."
The makers of the ConforMIS implants say they are custom fit for each patient, and that perfect fit helps minimize pain and shortens recovery time.
But doctors point out the implants are not for everyone.
"It's not for use in somebody just with knee pain or with a torn cartilage or with meniscus, it's for patients that have localized arthritic change," said Dr. Andrew Freiberg, an orthopedic surgeon at Mass General Hospital.
For Rich, it was the right choice. After his surgery, it wasn't long before he was back on the slopes.
Rich Hutchinson, loves to ski
"I'm ski racing again, I've been out like 26 or 27 days this winter, so I'm pretty psyched about the way things are going," Hutchinson said.
Doctors say most of the patients who choose this type of implant will eventually still end up needing a total knee replacement when they get older.(Copyright 2008 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)