Shoulder pain

Shoulder replacement surgery can be life changing for patients. It restores function and lets patients get back to living without pain.

Innovations in the field of orthopaedic surgery have changed shoulder replacement surgery. UPMC now offers guided personalized surgery (GPS) — the latest technique for shoulder replacements.

Orthopaedic surgeon Neil Singh, DO, a hand and upper extremity specialist with UPMC Jameson, has special fellowship training in this technique. It’s now his standard approach for shoulder replacement.

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What Is GPS for Shoulder Replacement?

Before a patient has shoulder replacement surgery, the surgeon has to understand a few key things. First, where is the bone most damaged? Second, what is the best position for the joint implant?

“We used to look at x-rays and try to see the areas of damaged bone and figure out what was happening inside the joint,” Dr. Singh says. But there was a bit of guesswork, because joints are not 2D, he adds.

Enter 3D technology and advanced imaging.

With GPS shoulder replacement, Dr. Singh uses a special presurgical scan to create a 3D model of the patient’s shoulder.

He studies the model to learn the joint’s wear pattern and see where the bone is most damaged. He then decides which implant provides the best fit.

He performs a virtual surgery on the model to create a plan for the procedure.

During the actual surgery, Dr. Singh uses special trackers placed on the person’s shoulder. This allows him to see the shoulder joint in front of him and the 3D model on the screen. This combination gives him a full 360-degree view into the shoulder joint.

As he removes bone, the model on the screen reflects his actions. That way, he can confirm that what he does aligns with the plan he created on the 3D model.

What Are the Benefits of GPS for Shoulder Replacement?

“The ability to get a 3D model of a patient’s shoulder before surgery takes the guesswork out of the procedure,” Dr. Singh says. In the past, surgeons only had 2D imaging to prepare them for surgery.

The 3D model helps surgeons understand intricate details about a person’s shoulder joint. “GPS lets us choose the implants that will best fit your anatomy, so that we can improve the function and longevity of the implant,” he says.

From the individual’s perspective, there is little difference between GPS and regular surgery. The recovery time is the same, and there are no increased risks with GPS.

For a surgeon trained in using this technology, there are only benefits. Dr. Singh uses the technology whenever it’s appropriate. So far, it’s only available at UPMC Jameson, but other UPMC hospitals may approve it soon, he says.

You can listen to Dr. Singh talk about GPS on this episode of UPMC HealthTalk podcast (starts around the 10:00 mark).

For more information about hand and upper extremity surgery at UPMC Jameson, call 724-983-7000. Here’s a link to learn more about orthopaedic care at UPMC Jameson.

About UPMC Orthopaedic Care

As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, UPMC treats a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. Whether you have bone, muscle, or joint pain, we provide access to UPMC’s vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. As leaders in research and clinical trials with cutting-edge tools and techniques, UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside appears on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the top hospitals in the country for orthopaedics.

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