For Rich Hutchinson, skiing is a passion. He was a member of the 1990 -1991 U.S. National Ski Team and the former National Race and Promotions Coordinator for Elan Ski Equipment. “I grew up skiing in New Hampshire at the age of two, ski racing at age four, and ski jumping at age eight,” Hutchinson said.
After years of heavy abuse and wear and tear to his knees, Rich developed severe osteoarthritis and as a result, had most of the meniscus in his right knee removed. By the time he was 40, Rich was in constant, debilitating pain. “The last six years or so I’ve been rubbing bone on bone creating arthritis and the degeneration of my knee,” Hutchinson said.
As a first line of treatment, Rich was prescribed cortisone injections and other non-surgical therapies. Unfortunately none of the treatments alleviated the pain. Rich had heard about surgical options such as having a total knee replacement, but felt he was too young to have to undergo such an extensive surgery. Traditional knee replacement surgery requires significant portions of the joint to be removed to fit the implant, leaving few options for revision surgeries when the implant eventually wears out in 10-15 years. Additionally, the surgery is painful and takes most patients at least six months to return to their normal physical activities. Furthermore, patients often complain that a total knee replacement feels “unnatural,” a key concern for Rich who wanted to maintain an active lifestyle. All of these factors considered, Rich was hopeful for an alternative remedy.
“I was in constant pain and nothing seemed to help,” Rich explained. “I didn’t want to go through a total knee replacement at 40 years old. I knew it would keep me from skiing and even normal activity for months. I just wanted to get back to my life.”
After discussing his options with his orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brian McKeon, who is also the Chief Medical Officer for the Boston Celtics, Rich learned about a personalized knee implant developed by ConforMIS, Inc., a company that develops and markets minimally invasive medical devices for the treatment of osteoarthritis and joint damage.
Dr. McKeon specifically told Rich about the iForma™ Interpositional device that slips into the medial or lateral compartment between the thigh bone and the shin bone. ConforMIS’ proprietary technology, called the iFit™, converts CT and MR imaging data into patient-specific, minimally-invasive implants allowing for individually sized and shaped implants. This approach also reduces or eliminates the need to cut the joint to make the implant fit the knee permitting the iForma to closely conform to the natural structures in the joint. The iForma also retains its proper position without the need for screws, pegs or cement. No bone cuts or cartilage removal are required and once inserted, the iForma restored the geometry of Rich’s joint, realigning his knee.
Implanting the iForma requires less time in the operating room and in turn, less blood loss. Additionally, there is a shorter recovery time than traditional knee replacement surgery enabling patients to return to normal activity, restoring the joint to full range of motion.