— Not an actual patient/physician

Technology Used in Planning Shoulder Replacement Surgery

In this article, Dr. Sperling demonstrates how technology can help surgeons plan for a shoulder replacement surgery. 

Over the past several decades, there have been significant advances in the field of radiology that have improved the ability to evaluate the bones in a patient’s shoulder. For many years, plain radiograph X-rays were the only imaging tools available to help plan surgery. 

The first major development beyond an X-ray was computerized tomography, otherwise known as a CT scan. The CT scan provides great information about your shoulder joint, particularly related to the shape of the bone. This can help surgeons determine how much wear may have occurred over time.

Over the past 10 years, “thin cut” CT scans have become more commonly used among many shoulder surgeons in planning shoulder replacement surgery. 

The next major development in pre-operative planning was the creation of 3-dimensional pre-operative planning software. Essentially, the data from the CT scan is entered into specialized computer software.  This specialized computer software then has the ability to give surgeons a 3-dimensional view of the bones and underlying soft tissues, separately. The surgeon can then look at the bone from multiple angles as well as individual sections through the bone.

In addition to providing improved 3-dimensional views of the patients shoulder anatomy, the computer software allows the surgeon to virtually plan what implants they may use in the shoulder. This can assist with the efficiency of the surgical procedure. It can also help the surgeon plan what size implants they might need at the time of surgery as well as the preferred implant placement. Doing this, the surgeon is also able to see, in advance, if special implants may be needed for an individual patient.  

Surgical Planning Software Animation

In this animation, you can see that the surgeon is viewing the glenoid (socket of the shoulder). The surgeon can then evaluate the specific implants that they may use for an individual patient. The surgeon has the ability to look at the socket from several angles and dimensions to plan accordingly for the patient.

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