VA ECHCS is Delivering a Custom Order - VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System
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VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System

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VA ECHCS is Delivering a Custom Order

custom 3D replacement parts (left) and traditional replacement knee replacement

Compare and contrast of custom 3D replacement parts (left) and traditional replacement knee replacement (right).

By Brandy Morrison, Public Affairs Officer
Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The future of medicine is continuously in motion and VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System (VA ECHCS) Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Ian Dickey is a leader in progressive three-dimensional (3D) total knee replacements with trailblazing outcomes.

While total knee replacements have been a part of medicine since the 1970s and have developed and changed over time, they haven’t always garnished positive results. Often times traditional knee replacements leave patients feeling as though they would not undergo the procedure again. Dickey is changing that narrative with custom knee replacements and increasing overall satisfaction by 25-40 percent.

Dickey is not only leading with this technology within VA, but he is also one of two surgeons in the Denver-metro area offering patients custom knee replacements. VA ECHCS Director Michael Kilmer said, “Dr. Dickey and this technology is just one of the ways VA leads the nation by providing high-quality and cutting-edge care. We are excited to be able to offer our Veterans the best of the best.”

Ian Dickey
Dr. Ian Dickey

So what does custom mean? Dickey explained this process initially as a “3D solution for a 3D problem.” With standard knee replacements, there are 10 different sizes for hardware, and you get the “closest” fit, but Dickey uses images from a CT scan to 3D print a custom piece of hardware. When outlining the differences between the standard knee replacement and the technologies used by Dickey, he simplified the options by saying, “There is either small, medium, large or there is a you.” Dickey chooses the “you” option.

From the time the images are sent to the lab for 3D printing, it takes six weeks to receive the custom implant back. There are no special candidates. If you are eligible for a standard knee replacement, you can elect for a custom knee replacement. According to Dickey, this device is “much more predictable and provides surgical care teams and facilities with much more reliable outcomes.” He continued with, “It really is about what is best for the patient.”

Since joining the VA in late 2019, Dickey has completed around 20 cases and is shooting for as many as he can next year. In his opinion, this is the future of joint replacements saying, “This is much like how GPS took over compasses. This provides patients with a better fit, better alignment and better rotation.”

Custom knees only appear to be the beginning for Dickey in his surgical evolution, as he also focuses his eyes on making amputations better.

If you are a candidate for a total knee replacement and are interested in exploring this 3D technology, please contact your Patient Aligned Care Team.


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