Some pics from the AAOS Convention

I’ll just get this out of the way right now: AAOS is the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This year, as occasionally happens, their annual conference was held here in Las Vegas, and I am very fortunate in that I can scam my way in with a family pass since my father is an actual orthopedic surgeon and I rode along on his coattails. I was last there about six years ago or so, and as is always the case in every industry, the related technology has advanced with leaps and bounds. The conference is gigantic taking up the entire Venetian-Sands conference center. Here’s what it looked like when I first entered the hall:

The main AAOS conference hall

The main AAOS conference hall

There were several main thrusts with this conference: Replacement parts for knees, hips, and shoulders, x-ray technology, electronic medical records (EMR), and publications. There were enormous, CES-worthy booths from the huge medical supply companies such as Zimmer, BioMet, Smith & Nephew, Stryker and DePuy, along with smaller booths from up and coming medical supply and tool companies.  There was a M*A*S*H tent set up by the Army to show the environment in which surgery takes place in the field, there were even surprisingly small booths from big companies like TEAC, Sony, GE, Panasonic and Samsung. Here are some pics of the booths to give you an idea, with a comment: The first image is the Stryker booth, which was so big you can see the main booth off to the right, with the focus of the image itself being a full demonstration booth set up for their Studio3 Surgical image and video management software.

The Stryker Booth

The Stryker Booth

Smith & Nephew

Smith & Nephew

BioMet booth, taken from http://www.hamilton-exhibits.com

BioMet booth, taken from http://www.hamilton-exhibits.com

GE

GE

Sony

Sony

Booths aside, the technology on display is fascinating, and more importantly has a direct impact on you, your health, and your healing and recovery. The technology on display at this conference is the very technology that will get you independent after an injury, even a very serious injury.

Remember that although we tend to think of digital devices when we hear the word ‘technology,’ it actually refers to any tools that help us complete a task, whether healing a broken bone or building the pyramids in Egypt. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t an abundance of digital technology at this conference, in fact there was tons of it. But there was also the technology that allows someone with a bad knee walk again, or bone to heal around a mesh repairing a fracture. Digital or not, the tech I saw there was fascinating.

As far as non-digital technology is concerned, there was an abundance of replacement parts. Knees, hips, and shoulders, mainly, and there were a lot of them. As an example, the process for replacing a knee (at least as far as I understand it) involves six steps in which holes are drilled through guides to attach cutting plates to the bone, cuts are then made for the parts, the parts are attached, and the knee is stitched up. The tools for each of those steps were on display everywhere, often lined up in sequence. For hips, the physician actually has to drill down into the femur to slide the shaft of the piece that has the ball at the top, which fits into the cup of the hip. The cup and ball are often, but not always, made out of ceramic. Further, much of the metal aspects of these parts are porous and very rough to the touch, which allows the bone to grow through and more fully integrate the artificial parts into the body. Here are a few pics of what they look like:

Biomet's G7 Acetabular System

Biomet’s G7 Acetabular System

Probably because it would only fit King Kong

Probably because it would only fit King Kong

Artificial hips and the tools to install them

Artificial hips and the tools to install them

Here are a few pictures of the M*A*S*H (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) tent that was set up by the Army to give an idea of the medical technology available to doctors out in the field:

 M*A*S*H Tent

M*A*S*H Tent

M*A*S*H Tent (Interior)

M*A*S*H Tent (Interior)

M*A*S*H Tent (Interior)

M*A*S*H Tent (Interior)

Here’s a surgical saw used for cutting the bone, and as you can see the blade sits inside a guide and only the blade moves, so that it can be fed through a guide to make precision cuts.

Surgical saw

Surgical saw

They even had a 3-D printer on display that could use special metals to print replacement body parts on demand! We’ve already had 3-D printed bone, so why not?

One hip, coming up

One hip, coming up

There was plenty of digital technology as well, however. Mainly medical imaging and management which involves taking photos and videos of xrays / surgical procedures, and their storage, and electronic medical records, which are required by the federal government and require strict adherence to ICD-9 and ICD-10 coding structures as well as HIPAA regulations.

Here are some of the medical imaging systems that were on display, I don’t believe there is anything too objectionable but be aware that it is a surgical conference. These are systems that allow for the video recording and photography of surgical procedures. They include everything from snake-cams to ultrasound.

Even a machine that can take motion x-rays:

Hello

Hello

And finally, there were a ton of booths that were showcasing their Electronic Medical Records software. This allows for the digital record-keeping of patient information including visuals such as digital x-rays or scans. It is also important because the federal government provides incentives for using them and penalties for not, and they allow for the easy transfer of patient information among medical providers as well as hospitals. Of course, there are significant security and privacy issues at stake when all your information, especially your medical information, is available in the cloud (remember our discussion of the cloud?). In fact, it appears medical information is now the number one target of cyber-thieves. Even so, this is the future of medical information.

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All in all a really great experience. I love seeing technology that is outside the consumer space with which we are all so familiar. We focus so much on smartphones and 4K TVs and Mobile processors and what have you, but this conference represents the technological advances in an industry we don’t think too much about until we need it, then we become very glad it’s there. It’s very important to realize that technology impacts every industry and us in many more ways than we think.

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