COLUMBUS, Ohio - OhioHealth orthopedic surgeon Thomas J. Kovack,DO, recently performed the world's first conventional total shoulder joint replacement using the DJO Surgical, Match Point System ™ patient-specific guide, a technology that enables a greater accuracy in implant positioning to improve outcomes.

"This is an exciting advance that greatly enhances our ability to properly place implants," said Dr. Kovack, who performed the procedure with excellent initial results at OhioHealth Dublin Methodist Hospital. "Studies have shown that there is a correlation between the patient's overall outcome in terms of pain, range of motion and function, and the position of the implants. The more out of position the implants are, the worse the potential overall outcome."

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint in which the ball, or head, of the upper arm bone fits into a shallow socket on the shoulder blade. Replacement surgery removes the damaged parts of the shoulder - typically from arthritis - and replaces them with artificial implants to eliminate pain and restore function.

The Match Point System, recently approved by the FDA, uses "patient specific" surgery drill guides to help surgeons place the implants in positions that conform to the patient's anatomy for a better fit.

The customized drill guides - used to ensure accuracy in surgery - are created from a pre-operative CT scan. The images from the scan are uploaded into a program that creates a 3D reconstruction model that the surgeon uses to manipulate exact positioning of the implant.

Once the surgeon positions the implant and approves the pre-operative plan, the drill guides are made according to the predetermined measurements. "This takes the guesswork out of the procedure," Dr. Kovack said. "We already have been using patient-specific surgery guides successfully for knee and hip replacements, and now we are making them for the shoulder."

Every drill guide is created for each particular patient, and discarded after use. This new technology currently is available only for the glenoid or socket side of the shoulder, which is the most difficult part of replacement surgery. Soon the humeral or ball side of the joint will have custom-made guides available.

"This new technology demonstrates the commitment of the OhioHealth orthopedics program to innovation and leading-edge advances," Dr. Kovack said. "As more people seek treatment for shoulder joint pain and dysfunction, the Match Point System will help more surgeons feel comfortable doing  replacement surgery."

While less common than hip or knee replacement, shoulder replacement surgery has become an increasingly popular option for people with severe shoulder pain and dysfunction.

More than 53,000 shoulder replacements were performed last year in the United States, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, but the number is likely to increase as the population ages. These patients are among the 4.5 million Americans seeking medical care for shoulder pain each year.

Increased patient demand for shoulder replacement is prompting improved instrumentation, planning tools and techniques for shoulder cases.