New Advancements Allow for Better Outcomes
By MATTHEW WILLIS, MD
A number of technological advancements have occurred in shoulder arthroplasty surgery over the last several years allowing for more specialized and accurate procedures.
Recently, innovation has granted orthopaedic specialists the ability to use patient-specific guides in complex shoulder replacement cases to improve outcomes. This is particularly beneficial to a patient with complicated bone loss. At Saint Thomas Health, part of Ascension, we’ve applied specialized software to CT scans, which creates these patient-specific guides to prepare the shoulder for the replacement surgery.
Another newer bone-sparing implant for shoulder replacements is a stemless shoulder replacement, which is particularly beneficial in younger patients who may need revision surgery in the future. Stemless shoulder replacement eliminates the need for a stem to be driven into the humerus to hold the humeral ball in position. Instead, a smaller anchoring mechanism is used, allowing for bone preservation.
The best candidates for shoulder arthroplasty are patients with osteoarthritis, irreparable rotator cuff tears, failed previous surgeries including previous replacements, or those with certain types of fractures. The main benefits of shoulder arthroplasty include pain relief … and in most cases, a shoulder replacement also improves range of motion and strength.
As the physician performing a high volume of shoulder replacements, one of my passions is sharing my expertise with other clinicians, as well as learning from my peers. I serve as the instructor at shoulder replacements courses nationally, and I host individual surgeons during operative days for surgeon education training.
Each year I chair the Southeast Masters Shoulder Symposium in Nashville, sharing advanced techniques in shoulder replacement. This year in conjunction with Saint Thomas Health, we hosted a cadaver lab where approximately 50 surgeons attended to learn advanced techniques in shoulder arthroplasty. As we continue to expand our innovative practices in shoulder arthroplasty, it’s important that we share these practices with one another. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have a patient who might be a candidate for referral or if you are interested in learning more about these newer options.
Matthew P. Willis, MD, is a fellowship trained, board certified orthopaedic surgeon with Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance. He specializes in disorders of the shoulder with extensive training in minimally invasive arthroscopic shoulder and elbow surgery including rotator cuff and labral repair, shoulder replacement, sports injuries, and fractures of the upper extremity. Willis can be reached at 615.823.8891.