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American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 73rd Annual Meeting, March 22-26, 2006

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 73rd Annual Meeting

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons held its 73rd annual meeting from March 22-26 in Chicago.

More than 24,000 orthopedic surgeons, researchers, health care professionals, and industry representatives from the United States and around the world attended the meeting, according to William J. Maloney, M.D., of Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., and chairman of the Central Program Committee.

"It was very exciting," said Maloney. "It's an international crowd. The American Academy's really become the annual meeting for continuing medical education for orthopedic surgeons around the world."

One of the major themes that galvanized debate during the meeting was the issue of minimally-invasive surgery. "There's a big push to make smaller incisions and make surgery minimally invasive," said Maloney. "Across the subspecialties, people are trying to do surgery with less tissue trauma. That includes hip replacement, knee replacement, spinal surgery and trauma surgery."

Another key area of debate involved the technology for spinal disc replacement surgery, and choosing the right candidate for spinal surgery, a particular challenge when patients have multiple spinal problems, Maloney said.

"The question is, who is the appropriate candidate?" Maloney said. "It's very controversial, and it's very hard to sort out if a degenerative disc is a source of pain in a spine with arthritis and disc disease. It's something of an unanswered question, and it will not be sorted out for several years," he added.

Also provoking discussion was the problem of access to trauma care, Maloney said. "It's a national crisis. A growing number of orthopedic surgeons are refusing to take trauma calls in the emergency room," Maloney said, "either because they don't feel qualified, they are older and don't want to be up at all hours, they are concerned about liability issues."

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