3D Pelvis 'Models' Are Valuable Tools for Surgeons Performing Surgery for Hip Dysplasia

Dr. Andrea Spiker, UW Health Sports Medicine orthopedic surgeon 

Dr. Andrea Spiker, UW Health Sports Medicine orthopedic surgeon


Hip dysplasia, a condition often identified with symptoms such as limping and hip pain, is often not correctly diagnosed until the patient has suffered with it for many years.


Caused by an abnormally shallow hip socket that is present at birth, hip dysplasia is about seven times more common in women than men and is the leading cause of early onset hip osteoarthritis. Most patients don't learn they have hip dysplasia until their late teens or early-to-mid twenties.


Patients with hip dysplasia can experience dramatic improvement and restored function through a surgical procedure known as periacetabular osteotomy, or PAO for short. The surgeon separates the hip socket from the pelvis and rotates its location to cover more of the "ball" that sits atop the thigh bone (femur), strengthening the patient's hip joint.


At UW Health, Dr. Andrea Spiker, a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon who directs the hip preservation program, collaborated with UW-Madison's Radiology Department on a clinical research study involving use of customized 3D-printed pelvis models, which can provide valuable information to Dr. Spiker and Dr. David Goodspeed, a UW Health orthopedic trauma surgeon who partners with Dr. Spiker on PAO cases.


A 3D model of a patient's pelvis

In the recently completed study, Dr. Spiker worked with UW radiologist B. Keegan Markhardt, MD, to produce 3D-printed models based on imaging of each patient's pelvis. Accordingly, Drs. Spiker and Goodspeed are able to get a "sneak preview" of the patient's anatomy before they begin operating.


"Our study showed that the models decreased the amount of time to achieve proper fixation and complete the surgery," says Dr. Spiker. "Although the amount of time saved was not statistically significant when compared to surgeries performed without the 3D models, we still found subtle variations in the anatomy that we did not see on an X-ray or CT scan."


Moreover, says Dr. Spiker, seeing the 3D model before surgery provided subjective advantages to her as a surgeon and teacher of surgical fellows, residents and medical students.


"PAO surgery takes place entirely within a very narrow slice of the pelvis," says Dr. Spiker. "Because we can't see most of the pelvis - which is covered by bone, muscle or ligament - seeing the 3D model prior to surgery clearly enhances our understanding of the patient's anatomy."


Dr. Spiker and Dr. Markhardt plan to continue using the 3D models. This year, in fact, the UW Radiology Radius Lab is offering a 3D printing service for anatomic models, making preoperative planning easier than ever before.


"Our next step is to see whether use of the models results in any difference in patient outcomes," she says.


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