ALL eyes were on Mayo General Hospital last week when a revolutionary new hip replacement procedure undertaken in the hospital was beamed to hundreds of experts at a international joint replacement conference in Rome.
Last Wednesday morning, Orthopaedic Surgeon Derek Bennett performed the surgery in the Orthopaedic Unit in Mayo General and in turn demonstrated to colleagues the technique and components which makes the operation so successful. The procedure was linked between Castlebar and the world’s premier international joint replacement conference in Rome via a live satellite link.
Mr Bennett was the first specialist outside the United States to undertake the new replacement when he inserted his first ‘Tri-Lock Bone Preservation Stem’ (BPS) device in June 2009, and has since put in almost one hundred.
Mayo General was the first time an Irish hospital has been used as a reference point for excellence in orthopaedics and Mr Bennett said he was proud to perform the surgery.
“I was being observed by some very experienced hip surgeons from globally-renowned facilities whose collective experience runs into the hundreds of thousands of joint replacements. However, since becoming the first surgeon outside America to put in a Tri-Lock BPS at Mayo General Hospital in June 2009, I have put in almost a hundred here, and in the Galway Clinic where I also work.
“I am delighted to have been given the operation to use this superb device because its advantages are not just confined to the cement-free fixing. It is made of very hard-wearing high performance materials and the way it is inserted allows for smaller incisions, less tissue disruption and speedier recovery,” he said.
The ‘Tri-Lock Bone Preservation Stem’ (BPS) device contains an artificial hip joint which instead of using cement to fix to the patient’s body are coated with a revolutionary ‘trabecular titanium’ coating. This has been specifically designed to mirror the porous and ‘spongy’ nature of a human bone.
Once the procedure is completed, the pre-existing bone in the femur grows into the artificial joint surface which preserves and mimics the body’s anatomy. Artificial hips currently have a 15-year life expectancy and taking out a worn cement-fixed joint often damages the bone and causes a weaker joint.
However, the advantages of the Tri-Lock stem is that it can be removed by cutting directly along the bone the last grown into it which experts say preserves the patients’ femur and makes second and third operations less problematic.
Mr Bennett paid tribute to the Manager of Mayo General Hospital, Charlie Meehan, and his predecessor Tony Canavan, for encouraging staff to develop its Orthopaedic Unit into a global centre of expertise and excellence.
“Clearly work of this nature cannot be performed without the commitment of a large team of dedicated professionals. With the help of staff and administrators, we have set up an international visiting surgeon programme in which experienced orthopaedic surgeons from all over Europe can travel to Castlebar and enhance their surgical skills and learn the latest techniques. We’ve also been involved in post-graduate orthopaedic training for a number of years. However, the international recognition of our ongoing efforts through broadcasts like this clearly represents a huge boost to everyone involved with Mayo General’s Orthopaedic Unit,” he said.