Hi-Tech Breakthrough in Shoulder Surgery - A First For Plymouth And The Region.

23 Oct 2017

The first computer-navigated shoulder replacement surgery in the region was carried out at the Plymouth Nuffield Hospital last week. 

Mr Andy Murphy FRCS, Consultant Surgeon with Plymouth Orthopaedics, performed the surgery in a patient with significant pain and restricted movement due to advanced arthritis.

The new system, called Guided Personalised Surgery (GPS) and designed by the American company Exactech, has been available in the US and major European centres for some time but is not yet in regular use in the UK. 

"We take a CT scan of the worn out shoulder joint which is then used to create a digital 3D model", explained Mr Murphy.

"This allows the surgeon to understand the complex anatomy of the shoulder as never before: using advanced computer software, we can then plan for pinpoint accuracy when implanting the components of the new shoulder, with the GPS providing a real-time view of the bony anatomy and implants during surgery." 

"This type of shoulder replacement is a major undertaking for both patient and surgeon, but this very latest technology means that complications can be minimised and so should increase the longevity of the new shoulder joint."

"I was fortunate enough to see the new system being used by American and European specialist colleagues during recent visits to Madrid and Geneva and I was excited to be able to be the first surgeon to bring this technology to Plymouth to help our patients." 

 About 5000 shoulder replacements are carried out each year in the UK, compared to more than 50,000 in the US. Mr Murphy believes that many more patients could be helped with surgery if only the technology was more widely available. "This is a really successful operation for the vast majority of patients" he says; "I have personally carried out hundreds of shoulder replacements and often patients tell me that their new shoulder has given them a new lease of life, allowing them to resume physical activities such as golf, sailing, walking, tennis, windsurfing, diving and paddle boarding. Just as important is the confidence they feel and the ability to carry out daily activities and chores around the home and garden without pain."   

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