Woman in Monroe County saves leg with 3D printed bone

AM Chronicle Editor

A 43-year-old Monroe County woman faced the risk of losing her leg following an injury from a car accident. After several doctors said that her leg would have to be amputated, she finally got a different opinion using innovative technology that printed her a 3D bone.

43-year-old Rebecca Chopeck’s life changed last summer when she was in a car accident on Highway 15 in Saylorsburg.

“I was in a very bad car accident, my foot hit the firewall of the car and I had an open fracture of the ankle. The bone traumatically displaced, which means it left my body and they don’t know what happened to it. So, it’s kind of a mystery on what happened to the bone,” said Rebecca Chopek.

Chopek was airlifted to an area hospital. She says doctors there told her that the best option was to amputate her leg.

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“There’s multiple doctors from this one group coming in and saying below the knee amputation is the best choice for you that if I were the patient, that’s what I would do. It wasn’t just once it was multiple times, they told me that and it was very hard emotionally, to possibly lose my leg,” said Chopek.

After spending 10 days in the hospital researching other options, she came across orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon Dr. James Lachman at St. Luke’s who said he could save her leg through innovative 3D printing technology.

“I was lucky enough to get exposed to this very early, about five or six years ago, and it’s definitely a surgical option that has changed this particular injury, although they’re kind of pushing the envelope on what you can really do with 3D printed technology,” said Dr. James Lachman.

Dr. Lachman was able to print her a metal 3D Talus bone by using a CT scan of her other ankle. The printing process took 2-3 weeks.

“This technology is, just in my opinion, taking off all around the country, foot and ankle surgeons are using this technology for multiple different problems that have plagued us throughout the years,” said Lachman.

After receiving the 3D printed bone, Chopek is able to walk again, and says she’s about 80% back to normal function.

“He’s a godsend to me. He saved my leg, he saved my emotional state, he saved a lot of me that day when he gave me that option,” said Chopek.

Dr. Lachman said that the surgery itself was the easy part. He said finding the right candidate for this procedure is the biggest challenge. He said good candidate include patients with a bone excursion, or vascular necrosis, where the blood supply to the bone is compromised.

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