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AI Offers New Surgical Precision

UMC Becomes the First Hospital in Nevada to Offer OrthoGrid PhantomMSK

Dr. Kubiak studies real-time x-ray imagery during a procedure.

By Scott Kerbs

Orthopedic surgeons at University Medical Center (UMC) now receive real-time feedback from a groundbreaking artificial intelligence system to ensure the highest level of precision during hip replacement surgeries. Introduced to UMC in June of 2019, the OrthoGrid PhantomMSK utilizes an advanced algorithm to analyze real-time x-ray imagery during procedures to promote accurate positioning of hip implants.

“This system gives you immediate feedback,” says Dr. Erik Kubiak, a leading orthopedic surgeon who utilizes the PhantomMSK system at UMC and helped develop the technology with OrthoGrid Systems, Inc. He and his colleagues spent years at the University of Utah perfecting the technology. “The system watches and offers feedback to the surgeon about the position of the pelvis and the position of the implant. We have essentially taught a computer how to think like a surgeon.”

UMC recently became the first hospital in Nevada to offer this technology, providing patients and physicians with access to valuable new technology designed to improve patient outcomes.

Total hip replacement surgery involves the removal of a damaged hip joint, followed by the implantation of an artificial hip. If the implant positioning is imprecise, the patient may experience a noticeable difference in the length of their legs, often leading to back pain and dislocation of the hip joint. The PhantomMSK system reduces the risk of these complications, offering an average limb length discrepancy of only 5 millimeters, which is far less than the 25.4-millimeter, or 1-inch, discrepancy that is generally considered acceptable for hip replacements, Kubiak says.

A 2016 study, published in The Journal of Arthroplasty, found that 70 percent of hospital readmissions following total hip replacement surgeries came as a result of stability and alignment issues. The PhantomMSK system addresses these potential issues by providing useful information that is not detectable by the human eye.

Dr. Kubiak says the cutting-edge system offers enhanced safety and a new level of consistency, surpassing even robotic technology in this key indicator of success for total hip replacement surgery.

Integrated with UMC’s existing surgical technology, the system features a large touchscreen and technology that automatically locks onto anatomical landmarks selected by the surgeon. The system requires minimal user inputs, Dr. Kubiak explains, allowing surgeons to focus solely on providing patients with the best possible outcomes. The PhantomMSK also offers improved efficiency, with an estimated 15-minute decrease in the time spent performing hip replacement surgeries, according to data from OrthoGrid.

Dr. Ben Hansen, an orthopedic surgeon who joined UMC to lead the hospital’s Total Joint service line, praised the PhantomMSK for its ease of use, explaining that the system serves as a valuable tool for preventing errors.

The system utilizes digital fluoroscopic grid technology that reveals hidden distortions in the medical images used by surgeons to make decisions during procedures. If undetected, distortions can result in inaccurate implant placement, Dr. Kubiak adds, highlighting the benefits of the new technology.

“By taking the distortion out of the image, you remove the biggest source of errors,” Dr. Kubiak says.

While physicians currently use the PhantomMSK in UMC’s main operating rooms, Dr. Kubiak expects the UMC Trauma Center to soon begin utilizing the technology while caring for many of the community’s most critically injured patients.

In recent years, UMC has grown to become the state’s most sophisticated hospital, offering a wide range of advanced equipment and procedures. UMC is home to a groundbreaking Robotic Surgery Program and the state’s first and only Pediatric Robotic Surgery Program.
“UMC takes pride in providing community members with access to the latest breakthroughs in medical technology,” says UMC CEO Mason VanHouweling. “From advanced robotic surgery to the innovative PhantomMSK system, UMC continues to invest in cutting-edge equipment while elevating the level of care available in Southern Nevada.”

Dr. Kubiak scrubs for surgery.

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