Florida’s Gulf Coast is home to a revolutionary medical procedure and it was done for the first time in the United States.
Robert Smith is an iron worker from St. Petersburg and he smashed his finger 2 year ago, an incident he says was a traumatizing experience.
Doctors were able to save his fingertip but couldn’t unshatter the bone inside, making it virtually impossible for him to return to his job.
“One of the first thoughts that ran through my mind was how is this going to affect my ability to do my job effectively?” Smith said.
That’s where Dr. Daniel Penello comes into the picture. Through Alexander Orthopedic Associates in St. Petersburg, Dr. Penello proposed a radical solution.
“No implant like this was ever conceived or created and I wanted to make sure that this was going to be the one and only procedure he needed,” Penello said.
Working with additive orthopedics, which specializes in medical 3D printing, Dr. Penello created a custom bone replacement. The first time it had been done in America.
Aside from the surgery, the only other options included living with the damaged finger or amputating it.
Dr. Penello warned Smith that the surgery did come with some risks, “There’s always a risk of fracturing or loosening where the artificial meets the biological.”
Smith says his recovery post surgery has gone very well.
“I’d like to say that operation was a complete success,” Smith said.
Now, both men hope this new surgery will help many going forward. The Food and Drug Administration has approved of the procedure, and it can also be covered by insurance.