NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Do your knees crack and hurt when you walk? Perhaps you’ve been told a knee replacement is your only option.

Despite the possible need for a new knee, many patients are reportedly told that they’re too young for the surgery because the replacement won’t last.

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports that 3D custom printed knees may be the answer.

Knee replacements usually last for 20 years or more. Many young people who need replacements because of trauma or disease are often told to live with your pain until they’re much older. This would help patients avoid a second procedure decades later.

This isn’t an option for everyone and that’s where 3D printed knees can help.

Anyone looking closely at Anastasia Halpin’s knee might see the scars from almost a dozen knee operations and procedures she’s had over the last 15 years. It started with a skiing injury when she was just a teenager.

Anastasia Halpin’s knee following several surgeries. (Credit: CBS2)

“I could no longer walk it had gotten so bad. My meniscus had completely detached… Over the next 15 years, I lost the ability to do anything without pain,” Halpin said.

Halpin was told her only relief would come from a knee replacement, but she was way too young.

Anastasia Halpin before knee replacement surgery. (Credit: CBS2)

“The excuse everyone gave me for 15 years was you’ll need another one later, it’s a waste of time,” she added.

Then Halpin found Dr. Nakul Karkare who had begun using a new type of knee replacement that could last much longer.

“The implant is customized to the native anatomy of the knee joint,” Dr. Karkare explained. “This is the patient’s own knee that they’re getting back.”

3D printed knee joints, custom printed for each patient. (Credit: CBS2)

From the CT scans, the “i-fit program” generates a 3D model of the patient’s knee that’s used to prints a mold so the custom prosthetic knee can be manufactured.

Just as important, single use custom tools and guides are printed that are made specifically for that patient.

“Surgery done is less invasive manner, we don’t have to do extensive drilling,” the physician at Lenox Hill Hospital added.

For Anastasia, it meant pain relief and getting her life back.

Halpin had also been told she couldn’t have babies because her pain medications would be bad for the fetus. Now, she’s now 15 weeks pregnant.

The exact lifespan of the new 3D printed knees have not been determined.

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