Back-up for Surgeons

Back-up for Surgeons

Internet-based AO Surgery Reference
 Prof. Kenneth Cheung (first from left), Prof. Keith Luk (first from right) and colleagues of the department

The reference will show the different surgical options and describe the skills and equipment needed to perform each procedure

Surgeons outside academia tend to be jacks of all trades – they have to have sufficient knowledge to treat a lot of conditions. Academic researchers, on the other hand, are more specialised and have capacity to develop new treatments and understanding. A new online reference tool, developed with input from HKU scholars, is bringing these two groups together in a more practical and immediate way than ever before.

The AO Surgery Reference is an internet-based resource for surgeons around the world. HKU academics played a major role in the AOSpine section to provide the latest information and step-by-step guides on managing various spinal conditions.

"Not all surgeons are academics and they may not have done a lot of research, so what they need in their practice are guidelines on when to do which procedure," said Professor Keith Luk Dip-kei, who co-wrote the section on spinal deformities. His colleague, Professor Kenneth Cheung Man-chee, was one of the editors of the whole section.

The visuals and click-through instructions help surgeons quickly grasp the treatment options and techniques.

For example, if the patient has a severely curved spine, the reference will show the different surgical options and describe the skills and equipment needed to perform each procedure, as well as the procedure itself. There is also a difficulty rating.

"Techniques are always being updated and whatever manuals can do, they are not designed to take you through the procedures step by step, minute by minute. You can now access this on a smartphone and carry out very careful preoperative planning prior to taking the patient to the operating room," Professor Cheung said.

"Deformity surgery in particular is difficult and very demanding in terms of the surgical skills and principles. A comprehensive tool like this also means surgeons can be exposed to different approaches from different senior surgeons around the world."

The mobile app version of the AOSpine surgery reference tool has been installed in more than 200,000 smartphones around the world.

Professor Cheung will also be disseminating his expertise globally in his role as president the Scoliosis Research Society. He is the first non-North American surgeon to become president of this society in her 51 years of history.

"One thing I have heard around the world is surgeons asking us to teach them about deformity treatment. Such surgeries are technically very demanding and care tends to be concentrated in specialist centres. There are countries where such centres do not exist," he said.

The AOSpine reference tool is one way of addressing that need. It can be accessed here.

Professor Kenneth M.C. Cheung and Professor Keith D.K. Luk of the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology received the Faculty Knowledge Exchange (KE) Award 2016 of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine for the project 'Internet-based Guide to the Management of Spinal Deformities: The AO Surgery Reference'.