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 IU Trident Indiana University

Glenoid Guide for Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Project Leads: Jeff Rogers, Advanced Visualization Laboratory, UITS Research Technologies

Prototyped guide
Figure 1. The prototyped guide for the cadaver.

Staff from the Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL) developed a workflow for creating a 3D-printed drilling guide to aid surgeons performing shoulder replacements. The guide restricts the surgeon to a predetermined and precise angle while drilling a required pilot hole. To demonstrate the workflow, the AVL used two datasets to produce two example guides: one dataset was from a cadaver and the other from a real patient. The printed guide for the cadaver dataset was used for a mock surgery to verify its accuracy. 

3D Printing is an increasingly interesting and active area of research, development, and application. This was the Lab’s first opportunity to develop and apply novel 3D printing techniques for a surgical application. AVL expanded its knowledge of preparing digital 3D models. Existing and future IU personnel benefit from having such expertise in-house and readily available. 

Shoulder replacement surgery has room for improved precision. Even in the skilled hands of a highly trained surgeon, current techniques allow for some error. These errors can affect mobility of the shoulder joint after the surgery. One notable area of improvement is the placement of the prosthetic that replaces the glenoid surface of the scapula. The workflow developed for this project uses CT scans and 3D visualization software to create a custom, per-patient guide that aids the surgeon and ultimately improves the chances of a successful replacement.

IU’s Advanced Visualization Lab is funded through the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology; is a unit of UITS Research Technologies; and is affiliated with the Pervasive Technology Institute. For questions about this project or to request a consultation, please contact

NSF GSS Codes:

Primary Field: Multidisciplinary Studies (980) - Science, Technology, and Society

Secondary Field: Surgery (716) - Orthopedics/Orthopedic Surgery