World’s leading clinicians travel to Edmonton to learn advanced surgical technique
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Leading clinicians from Australia, South Africa and Switzerland visited Edmonton to learn a ground-breaking jaw reconstruction technique at the Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine, (iRSM), a joint institute by Covenant Health, University of Alberta, and Alberta Health Services.
“I think you see it here, the power of collaboration,” said Hadi Seikaly, Professor, Department of Surgery, Divisional Director and Zone Section Chief. “The person who invented this procedure, Dr. Dennis Rohner, is here from Switzerland. We have a group from Australia and another from South Africa to learn from us. And we have a group from Edmonton who is learning how to do this. The power of collaboration from across the ocean allows us to share and build on innovative ideas.”
The two-day, hands-on clinical workshop provided an opportunity for clinicians to practice the Rohner Technique – an advanced technique that uses technology to speed up treatment time, reduce the number of operations and enhance results for patients who undergo jaw reconstruction due to head or neck cancer, disease or major trauma.
“It’s not possible to learn or undertake these things on your own or as individual groups. There is an ethical tradition within the world we work in, an ethical responsibility that once you learn to do something you find valuable to share it with others. That is part of the mission here,” said Dr. Wolfdaart, iRSM Director of Clinics.
The conventional jaw reconstruction process used by the vast majority of surgeons in the developed world may take several operations and two to four years to complete. The Rohner Technique taught in Edmonton reduces the number of surgical operations to two instead of four and the time to six months instead of four years.
iRSM has further improved on the Rohner Technique for better treatment results. Rather than using models created manually, iRSM creates digital models, which provide more accurate results, take less time, and improve patients’ outcome. Creating digital models also allows for flexibility during trial and error, and results are gathered more quickly.
“What a wonderful thing, using technology to speed up the procedure. It was less than a year from start to finish. If I hadn’t had it, I would’ve waited four years and then it would’ve taken even more time by the time the surgery was complete,” said James Whenham, recovered patient from Pigeon Lake, Alberta who received the procedure in 2011.
The Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine is the first institute in North America to offer training in this treatment.
“This is a wonderful innovation for Edmontonians and as Canadians. And the fact that we have this technology here for them is very important for them to know,” said Dr. Seikaly.
Three patients have received the Rohner procedure, two patients from Edmonton and one from Saskatchewan. A fourth patient received the first stage of surgery for severe facial trauma at the end of the two-day workshop.
“What we’re doing here is building on new procedure that was discovered in Switzerland by Dr. Rohner and sharing it with the world. We’re bringing patients back to their normal daily activities, eating, drinking water, swallowing and interacting with society,” said Dr. Seikaly.
“It’s not just the eating of food. It’s also where you eat. I can now go to a restaurant and order food, I can go to a party and eat food. I don’t have to ask for everything to be grinded,” said Whenham. “With teeth, I talk better. It’s given me a lot of confidence. It’s been a great process.
“It makes me happy to see patients afterwards when they come back and they have better quality of life,” said Dr. Dennis Rohner, surgeon and procedure inventor from Switzerland. “That is why I work to improve my technique, to see the patients coming back and being happy. Regardless of who invented the technique, it’s important that people can use the technique to better lives. This makes me happy.”
Other than giving patients full functionality to be able to enjoy daily activities, iRSM has met its goals for the jaw reconstruction program on several occasions.
“This program is a life changing opportunity for everyone involved. Even though I’m not a surgeon, for my team and I to be able to understand the mechanics of the whole thing helps our planners who are the ones doing a majority of the planning as we work with surgeons. It’s important to understand what the outcome is going to be,” said Christine Wallace, maxillofacial prosthodontist from Australia.
“We want to fix people and make them better not just to fix people because we can,’ said Dale Howes, prosthodontist from South Africa. “We want to come and learn from those that have measured the outcomes and learn what they’re doing to make people’s lives better. In our view, this is the best place to come and learn.”
The workshops were held on February 23 to 24 at the Misericordia Community Hospital, where iRSM is located.
The Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine, (iRSM), working in complex area of osseointegration implanted devices, is dedicated to the creation and sharing of new knowledge by educating, training, developing, recruiting, and retaining the best intellectual capital in the world.