How Computer Assistance Improves Shoulder Replacement Results

Shoulder replacement surgery

Computer technology continues to provide treatment options that provide superior results and reduce risks of complication. Computer-assisted arthroplasty is one such innovation that has entered the world of joint care. Prior to the innovation of this technique, the surgeon’s knowledge of the treatment site was limited to imaging taken using standard X-rays. Today they have a near-perfect understanding of the positioning and structure of the surgical site thanks to Computer-Assisted Arthroplasty.  This is the most precise way to generate a surgical plan virtually and then translate the surgical plan to the operating room.   More precise implant placement improves longevity of the shoulder replacement and enhances long term pain relief and functional improvement.

How Computer Assistance Improves Shoulder Replacements

Using this approach, it’s no longer necessary for surgeons to perform shoulder replacements using only x-rays taken before the procedure. X-rays often do not provide all the detail needed for surgical planning.  Instead, computer-assisted arthroplasty utilizes a CT-Scan to provide picture-perfect reproductions of the treatment site. In addition to these high-quality images, a near-perfect model of the shoulder joint is able to be made using 3-D printed technology. This model is kept on hand throughout the procedure as a visual reference of the treatment site.  In addition, surgeons also have access to special goggles that enable surgery to be performed in a mixed reality (MR) environment.  Robotic Assisted surgery is currently under development in the shoulder.  Dr. Costouros has been involved in the development of this technology from the earliest days of its development.

This model is secured to the shoulder being treated to serve as a drilling guide during the surgery. Upon completion of drilling, the implant is set in place and firmly secured. Using this model, surgeons are able to ensure that the new joint is properly aligned. This goes a long way to ensuring that the patient recovers quickly and the new shoulder lasts as long as possible. This approach is especially helpful in improving the outcome of complex cases such as:

  • Bones that have become deformed
  • Advanced wear from severe arthritis
  • Misalignment of the shoulder bones

The most common reason for requiring a shoulder replacement is a lifetime of wear and tear. When arthritis is involved, there’s often a genetic component drawn from a family history of the condition. Of course, trauma and injury can also play a role and can serve to accelerate the concern when arthritis is a factor. Shoulder pain can seriously impact the quality of life, even causing issues with sleeping when the pain is bad enough.

Shoulder replacement is often the last step in a line of treatments. When symptoms first appear, your physician will take more conservative approaches. This can include medication and physical therapy. Over time, however, if the symptoms fail to be addressed, surgery may be considered. Shoulder replacement surgery is safe, effective, and can help restore quality of life while relieving pain.

In all forms of shoulder replacement surgery, the parts of the shoulder that have become damaged are removed. In their place are positioned artificial components known as a prosthesis. This prosthesis often has a lifespan of 15-20 years, giving many more years of activity and enjoyment to those who receive it.

Speak To Your Joint Specialist To Learn More

If you’ve been experiencing persistent chronic pain in your shoulder, it’s time to speak to a professional. By scheduling a consultation, you may be protecting yourself from years of painful difficulty. Your joint specialist can identify any concerns and provide effective modes of treatment to mitigate them. Should it come to the point where surgery is necessary, you’ll know that you’re in good hands.


Dr. John Dearborn - Dearborn & Associates

Dr. John Dearborn is a top-performing orthopedic surgeon in the Bay Area and Northern California. Dearborn & Associates Institute for Joint Restoration’s narrow focus and high volume, yields a wealth of clinical experience in the field. Dr. Dearborn and his team have performed over 16,000 successful joint replacement procedures in the last 20+ years.