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Physician Resource

Researcher Highlight Q&A: Brian Werner, MD, Shoulder Arthroplasty

In his work as a UVA Health orthopedic surgeon and researcher, Brian Werner, MD, says his biggest passion is "making patients better."

"I love watching them recover from surgery and get back to their regular lives and what they love doing," he explains.

To that end, Werner's research focuses on one key goal: improving complex shoulder surgery so his patients have the best outcomes possible.

Read Werner's answers below to learn how his research is helping improve shoulder arthroplasty.

What are you working on right now?

My research is largely clinical and focuses on various aspects of shoulder arthroplasty, including:

  • Preoperative planning for shoulder arthroplasty
  • Patient education
  • Clinical outcomes for both anatomic and reverse shoulder arthroplasty (RSA)

What are the most intriguing potential clinical applications of your work?

I really enjoy using clinical outcomes research to influence implant design and positioning. Some of our recent studies have helped us identify potential changes in both design and positioning of the glenosphere component in RSA to help improve internal rotation, which continues to be a challenging motion postoperatively.

A recent study of ours currently under review that looks at implant positioning from sagittal and axial views has found that improving the clearance for the prosthesis under the coracoid by shifting the center of rotation posterior and inferior improves pain and function after reverse shoulder arthroplasty. We have expanded this into three dimensional analyses and future changes in implant design.

What made you choose UVA Health as the place to do your research?

I trained here and had great mentors at UVA both clinically and for research. I knew I would have tremendous support, making it a very easy decision to come back.

What do you wish more people knew about your area of research?

There is a tremendous amount that shoulder surgeons are still learning about shoulder arthroplasty, particularly RSA. Our hope is that continued research will reduce complications and improve clinical outcomes, particularly rotational motion.

How did you become interested in your area of research?

It was a gradual increase over time.  I was actually hired to be a complex knee surgeon, but had a strong interest in shoulder arthroplasty. While I still perform a significant amount of complex knee surgeries, over time, there was a greater need for complex shoulder surgery, and my clinical practice gravitated in that direction. 

As my clinical practice matured and began to focus on complex shoulder surgery, I began to seek opportunities to focus my research in that area. I have been fortunate to find a number of excellent surgeon collaborators and industry support that allow me to continue to answer interesting clinical questions.

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