Medical Moment: 3D planning for shoulder replacement surgery

Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 5:43 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - 53,000 Americans have shoulder replacement surgery every year.

In the past, patients with severe injuries were often treated with over-the-counter pain medications and rest, but over time this caused pain, tears, and traumatic rotator cuff injuries that potentially led to more broken bones.

Today, shoulder replacements are among the favored surgical procedures. Replacements are usually performed with anatomic or reverse implants. People that receive these implants today now often return home the same day they undergo the surgery with outpatient therapy.

Now, orthopedic surgeons are using advanced technology to build a better treatment plan for patients. That means patients can get back to their normal lives quicker, and maybe even with less pain.

64-year-old Dan Lidster lived in pain for eight years. His aching shoulder kept him awake at night, which ruined his days.

“Had to write everything down because I just couldn’t remember anything,” Lidster recalled. “I was in this huge fog.”

After a lifetime of working out, Lidster figured arthritis was the cause but he says he wasn’t ready for the doctor’s prescription.

“He took x-rays of it, and he said, ‘I need to replace your shoulder.’ And I mean, it was like within 15 minutes of being there.”

But orthopedic surgeon Gregory Gasbarro mapped out a unique approach for Lidster, starting with a computerized CT scan.

The 3D image allows Dr. Gasbarro to virtually plan the position and orientation of the shoulder implant. A patient-specific guide allows doctors to customize the surgery for each patient.

“When you use the guide, what it does is it’s putting you down the best column of bones, so you can have stability, and it’s also pushing you in the correct direction so, you can correct the deformity,” Dr. Gasbarro said.

Dr. Gasbarro replaced Lidster’s shoulder in June of 2020. Lidster said he’s faithful about stretching and has returned to working out.

“I have no issues, none at all,” Lidster declared. “Can’t lift as heavy weights, but I can still lift weights. And that’s the important part. And I can do it pain-free.”