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Breakthrough for bone man

Published on October 2, 2007



An orthopaedic surgeon from Nakhon Ratchasima has developed an award-winning medical procedure that can treat open fractures and broken bones up to 10 weeks faster than conventional treatment.

Dr Yingyong Suksathien, from Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital, said his technique, the first of its type in the world, was designed to help shorten the healing time for open fractures.

Open fractures and broken bones usually require 20 weeks to heal and are treated with at least three surgeries, one of which requires a steel attachment to be inserted. Dr Yingyong's device, which won the Innovation Award yesterday from the National Innovation Agency (NIA), can achieve the same results over 10-16 weeks with just one surgery.

Dr Yingyong said his technique was based on the dynamisation theory and allowed patients to move their bones during treatment, thus allowing broken bones to heal faster. A stainless steel attachment is fixed onto the broken bone from outside the body, he said.

Open fractures usually require three surgical operations to attach the instrument to the broken bone. The first surgery fixes the static external fixator to the broken bone outside the body. This process reduces the chances of infection.

After the external wounds are healed, a second surgery is conducted to insert a steel attachment directly onto the broken bone. A third surgery is needed about 20 months later to remove the steel attachment.

Dr Yingyong said his team is ready to start clinical trails on 40 patients at Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital after spending four years developing and redesigning the new instrument. He plans to conduct trials on 100 patients before beginning mass production of the instruments.

He said his technique would take less time and require only one operation. When the bone is healed, the surgeon just unscrews the instrument without the need for surgery. This way, patients will not only save money from unnecessary surgeries but also reduce suffering. It is expected that the new technique will help patients save 90 per cent of their medical costs since they need one surgery and the fixator instruments are made locally.

Meanwhile, the healing time is also shortened by around 25 per cent.

Apart from being used as a fixator, the instrument can also be used for bone transportation, bone lengthening, bone gap closures, infected non-union treatment, hybrid external fixators, correction of joint contractures, and correction of malunion.

The hospital currently has 25 sets of the dynamic external fixator instruments. After using the new technique at the hospital, it found that the orthopaedic surgeons could provide medical treatment to more patients and help prevent disabilities.

Pongpen Sutharoj

The Nation

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