Surgery: Now in 3-D

Computer imaging and virtual surgery help surgeons practice for perfection

There’s no guesswork when Cleveland Clinic orthopaedic surgeons replace a patient’s shoulder or hip joint. That’s because the surgery already has been done, virtually.

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Three-dimensional computer imaging of a patient’s bone structure allows a surgeon to perform an operation virtually and then take it into the real world in a precise way, says Joseph P. Iannotti, MD, PhD, Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Orthopaedic & Rheumatologic Institute, which holds 12 patents and patent applications for this new technology, known as patient-specific instrumentation. He is principal investigator in the research, which has been under way for the past nine years. His team recently completed a clinical trial.

“It will be a game changer for a lot of surgeons — it’s certainly been a game changer for us,” Dr. Iannotti says of this innovative technique. “It will become standard treatment down the road.”

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