What’s New

Our annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) was this week in San Francisco.  This meeting brings together almost 30,000 orthopedic surgeons, vendors, and sales people to provide intense education on the “latest and greatest” new technology as well as provide ongoing education for orthopedic surgeons.  It is usually quite a show, taking over all three Moscone Convention Center, with exhibits showing the greatest new plates, screws, biologic materials to help tendon healing, bone graft substitutes, instruments to make our surgeries go more easily, and techniques to implant them. 

One of the reasons I love orthopedic surgery is because there is always something new to learn, innovation has been fostered and through this innovation has brought total knee replacements, total hip replacements, and surgeries to improve the quality of life for millions of Americans.  Today, I am actually taking the day “off” from the Academy and spending time sifting through  what I have been learning and integrating that into some self assessment examinations.  (Yes, at my age, I still have to take tests and questions). 

In the next few blogs, I am going to talk about some of the updates that we learned during this meeting. 

Today, I will just say a few words about smoking.  As you know, smoking is no longer as big an issue that we see in California since laws have restricted ones ability to smoke in most public places and even near public buildings.  So, smoking is much less prevalent here in California, and especially in Bay Area.  So, most of us do not think it as a big issue.

However, it is well established that smoking increases risks of bones not healing (called nonunions), failure of fusions of spine surgery, poor wound healing and increased infections in joint replacement, rotator cuff repair, and has a huge impact on healing.  Many orthopedic surgeons refuse to operate on a patient for a spinal fusion or a cervical spine fusion if they are smokers.  I insist my patients that are smokers to stop before I will perform rotator cuff repair since it has been established that there are higher incidences of failure of healing of these tendons.  In my next blog, I am going to speak about osteoporosis and some of the new controversies surrounding that.  This is one of the current “hot topics” in orthopedics.  So, stay tuned in the next few weeks.

- Lesley J. Anderson, MD

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