27 November 2014

Orthopedic surgery today

The average lifespan in the United States increased by more than 30 years during the 20th century. This trend resonates around the world as more countries improve healthcare, sanitation and education for their populations.

Understanding rising demand

Longer life expectancy, coupled with active populations, has fueled growing demand for joint reconstruction due to primary or secondary osteoarthritis.

Indeed Crowninshield et al reported in 2006 that American total joint replacement patients, “compared with several decades ago…are almost 20% heavier, more physically active, three times more likely to have a high school or college education, and live more than 25% longer.”

In developing countries rising standards of living have created a new “middle class” with the financial means to afford elective surgery, including joint arthroplasty. Obesity has also been cited as contributing to the rise in these procedures.

To give the rate of growth a little perspective, Kurtz et al projected that primary and revision knee replacements will increase by more than 600% by 2030 in the US alone.

And given that a 2014 study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery showed hip and knee arthroplasty procedures to be recession-proof, it seems to follow that the predictions may come true.

Rapidly developing technologies

Medicine today in general is known for rapid change as new scientific understanding, technology and procedures are widely accepted around the globe. In light of this rapid change operating room team members and hospitals must invest time and effort in order to achieve quality outcomes.

When technology and demand progress at such an accelerated rate it can be a challenge for surgeons to readily access suitable training and support.

Challenges surgeons encounter

We can all agree that improving patients’ lives through positive outcomes is our ultimate goal as surgeons. A remarkable one third of joint reconstruction failures occur within the first two years after surgery, and many such failures may be linked to technical problems.

Consequently optimizing surgical technique can provide immediate, important and tangible benefits for patients. But with no globally active educational body, it can be difficult for surgeons to attain the skills they need to proactively minimize, and when needed respond optimally to complications encountered during surgery and post-operatively.

Also, a lack of specialized training in the field may contribute to early implant failures. Thus, the general orthopedic community can still benefit from globally-recognized surgical indications protocols. Some findings in the “Report for Joint Preservation and Replacement”, part of the “Global Needs Analysis” survey by AO Trauma seem to confirm this. See SUMMARY GLOBAL NEEDS ANALYSIS

The changing face of medical education

Medical education has seen a transformation in how content is delivered. No longer is the one-way passive learning experience, the lecture, considered the optimal way to impart information. Thus AO has established curricula combining different teaching methods with technology and personal interaction to maximize retention.

Continuing on from how we educate in person (eg, simulation) to distance learning options (eg, webinars) AO Recon is poised to leverage AO’s accumulated educational know-how in order to produce effective learning options for its surgeons.

Measuring success: our commitment to you

How will we know if our efforts are successful? AO Recon is charting new waters and forging new relationships. It may take some time but we have set a number of benchmarks to track our progress.

It is our hope that through the delivery of high-quality educational options we will support a global network of surgeons who perform preservation and replacement procedures.

We acknowledge that the needs of individual surgeons vary depending on their background, the environment in which they work, and the resources they have available. We aim to create educational content and tools to address the spectrum of educational needs.
We intend to focus on the evolving needs of orthopedic surgeons throughout each stage of their careers. It is important for surgeons to acquire new skills at different times: from training onward.

With our first curriculum we commit to developing robust, evidence-based basic principles of joint replacement. Regardless of where an orthopedic surgeon practices or what volume of procedures they complete, they will be able to integrate these principles.

But ultimately the measure of success will the health and active lifestyle of the patient, who we hope will benefit from better results, fewer complications and less likelihood of revision surgery because of the high-quality education delivered by AO Recon.


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