D-H surgeon performs first AR-assisted shoulder replacement surgery in U.S.

Orthopedic surgeon also assisted with development of the new technology
John Erikbell

John-Erik Bell, MD is pictured during surgery wearing NextAR Smart Glasses to visualize surgical actions and information in real-time, directly on the operative field. (Courtesy of D-H Health)



An orthopaedic surgeon at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center played a key role in the development of a new technology to improve the accuracy, efficiency and longevity of shoulder replacement surgery. John-Erik Bell, MD, worked with medical device developer Medacta to create the NextAR Shoulder application, the first augmented reality surgical application with intraoperative guidance for total shoulder replacement cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.

“I’m very proud to have been part of the development, and the first in this country to implement, a new technology that I expect will be widely adopted by orthopaedic surgeons worldwide and improve quality of life for many people,” said Bell. “We are always striving to improve patient outcomes after shoulder replacement surgery and we hope that by improving the precision of surgery, we can help patients with improved shoulder function and by providing them with even longer-lasting shoulder replacements.”

NextAR Shoulder is designed to improve efficiency and precision in total shoulder replacement, while supporting the advancement of personalized surgery. The technology enhances the customized preoperative surgical plan with unique intraoperative orientation assessments, allowing surgeons to track real-time positioning. Prior to surgery, the surgeon uses a 3D virtual model of the patient’s shoulder to choose the best implant and position to restore the patient’s unique anatomy and maximize function of the prosthetic joint.

During the operation, the surgeon uses the NextAR Smart Glasses to visualize surgical actions and information in real-time, directly on the operative field. This ensures all adjustments are based on real-time data and enables the surgeon to remain focused on the patient for an optimal user experience. With this process, the NextAR Shoulder platform allows for exceptional precision and control, ultimately translating to enhanced efficiency in the operating room.

“This is one of the most exciting advancements in technology for shoulder replacement surgery that we’ve seen thus far,” shared Bell. “Before I perform a shoulder replacement surgery, I routinely use special software to better understand the unique shape and size of the bones of each of my patients’ shoulders. I then use the computer to determine how best to reconstruct each shoulder. This new technology now lets me execute my surgical plan even more precisely without having to work from memory or by looking at a computer screen across the room. The augmented reality glasses help guide me by the showing me the exact three-dimensional position of each component of my shoulder replacement surgery in real-time.”

Categories: Technology