Shoulder Surgery “Goes 3D”

Parkwest Medical Center First in State to Use Mixed Reality 3D Hologram Technology during Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Virtual reality has changed the face of video games and sports training, and now it is changing the future of the operating room.

3D Mixed Reality Glasses at Parkwest Medical Center new surgical technology
3D Mixed Reality Glasses at Parkwest Medical Center.

Covenant Health’s Parkwest Medical Center is the first medical center in the state of Tennessee to perform a shoulder arthroplasty (joint replacement procedure) with the assistance of a new technology platform called Blueprint® Mixed Reality. This innovative software solution allows shoulder arthroplasty surgeons to reference and interact with a holographic representation of their pre-operative plan in real time during surgery.

Shoulder arthroplasty is a surgical procedure in which the joint is replaced by a prosthetic implant, much like a total hip or total knee replacement. People who undergo shoulder replacement surgery are typically seeking to relieve arthritis pain or reconstruct joint damage from trauma or rotator cuff injuries.

Surgical methods may include the traditional approach or a 3D computer-assisted approach, depending on the patient. This new technology allows for a specialized approach using a holographic image, or a computer-generated image that is digitally constructed and illuminated to overlay 3D images with reality.

Justin Kennon, MD, performed the procedure in September 2022. Parkwest Medical Center is one of only 33 sites in the nation offering the technology to patients during a limited-release period. Dr. Kennon is a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulder and elbow surgery. Dr. Kennon has prepared more than 30 orthopedic publications and presentations, and has achieved multiple awards and accolades for his work. As an early clinical evaluator, he has been able to bring this advancement to Parkwest Medical Center and will help shape how the technology is integrated into future operating rooms.

Dr. Justin Kennon orthopedic surgeon uses new technology on a shoulder replacement at Parkwest
Dr. Justin Kennon, an orthopedic surgeon, uses new technology on a shoulder replacement at Parkwest.

“The mixed reality 3D technology allows me to tailor shoulder replacement procedures to the unique needs and anatomy of my patients,” said Dr. Kennon. “This, in turn, gives me the potential to perform a more precise and personalized shoulder replacement compared to traditional surgical options.”

The mixed reality system includes a virtual lens headset, software and a peripheral display that allows the surgical team to see what the surgeon sees intra-operatively.

The 3D hologram technology enables a surgeon to maintain a direct view of the surgical site and simultaneously visualize and manipulate a holographic representation of the patient’s anatomy. By using hand gestures and voice commands, the surgeon can interact with a robust data set to optimize the position of the 3D holographic models. This allows the surgeon to replicate the pre-operative plan as closely as possible while incorporating real-time information during surgery.

Dr. Kennon explains, “Virtual reality immerses the viewer into a completely virtual world, while mixed reality overlays 3D holographic images with real life, allowing the two to interact.

“Surgery is a three-dimensional problem requiring three-dimensional solutions. Much like a fighter pilot uses real-time data on a heads-up display combined with real-life environmental input to make critical decisions, we are now able to use holographic information in a heads-up display in surgery to make critical decisions to improve patient outcomes.

“In order to advance, we have to think critically and analyze our techniques and outcomes as surgeons. I have made a commitment to myself and my patients to continue to ‘push the envelope’ as we transform shoulder replacement surgery here in Tennessee with some of the most innovative technology in the world.”

Parkwest’s orthopedic teams use a combination of 3D mixed reality, computer-assisted shoulder replacement, and patient-specific custom shoulder replacement. Dr. Kennon uses each of these technologies separately and collaboratively to find the right solution for each patient. The new mixed reality technology is unique for both anatomic total shoulder replacement and reverse total shoulder replacement.

Devan Johnson, president and chief administrative officer of Parkwest Medical Center, says adopting this unique technology is a next step toward the future. “Parkwest has established a trusted tradition of surgical excellence and continues to be on the forefront of using technology for the best possible outcomes.” Johnson says. “In recent years, we have expanded our operating room capacity and use of technology in ways that continue to benefit our patients and our community.

“As production is able to meet demand, 3D mixed reality joint replacement will likely be expanded throughout the region in coming years. For now, Dr. Kennon and Parkwest are ahead of the curve for our patients.”

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