• Mayo Clinic Minute: Mixed reality provides precise path during shoulder surgery

Holograms and virtual reality (VR) headsets can be part of a great gaming experience. But did you know that the same technology can make for a better healthcare experience too?

Dr. Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, a Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon, explains how, for the first time ever, mixed reality played a vital role in a recent shoulder surgery he performed.

Shoulder arthroplasty, or shoulder replacement surgery, is a complex procedure where damaged bone is replaced by metal and plastic implants. Computer software helps doctors create a surgical plan as to where those implants should be placed.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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"But we didn't have a way to easily translate that plan, which is very accurate, to the operating room", says Dr. Sanchez-Sotelo, division chair of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery at Mayo Clinic.

That is, until now. Recently, he performed the first-ever mixed reality navigated shoulder replacement surgery. Specially designed tools and goggles create a highly accurate hologram of the joint. He says that together, they "allow us to place a component exactly where it belongs."

And that’s important, he adds, because "placing the implant exactly where it belongs has a direct impact on complications, outcomes and longevity."

Dr. Sanchez-Sotelo has seen a lot of change over his career. But he says this may be the most exciting. "This technology is going to allow us to do things that were unthinkable before."

Mayo Clinic has a financial interest in the technology referenced in this story. Mayo Clinic will use any revenue it receives to support its not-for-profit mission in patient care, education and research. Dr. Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo is a paid consultant of Stryker Trauma and Extremities.

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