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Improving Shoulder Surgery Planning Within VA With 3D Printing

As another continued effort to improve health care services for veterans, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has announced that two doctors from a Baltimore VA Medical Center recently demonstrated how 3D printing at the VA is more useful for orthopedic surgeons in planning shoulder replacement surgery than other available options. 

Oftentimes shoulder replacement surgery is performed to treat arthritis, which is a commonly diagnosed condition among veterans as well as the general population. According to the VA, “The small amount of bone at the socket side of the shoulder joint is a major challenge to the long-term durability of shoulder replacements.” The agency explained that by allowing surgeons to have a better understanding of the details in each individual patient’s anatomy, “3D printed models of the shoulder provide an additional tool for surgeons to use in pre-surgical planning, ultimately leading to longer-lasting shoulder replacements.”  

The VA said that although these 3D printed models for surgery are being pioneered in Baltimore, they can have applications at VA medical centers with 3D printing capability across the country. 

In a recent statement, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said, “Moving forward, VA will continue to seek opportunities to further develop and apply 3D technology as it strives to embed innovation into the fabric of the organization.”—Julie Gould

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