Screws, drills and green peppers: an overview of orthopedic surgery at HGH

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Knee surgery and fractures remind us of old age or a ski trip gone wrong. However, doctors can help and help people who need knee surgery or repair for bone fractures – locally – at Hawkesbury & District General Hospital (HGH).

At a recent donor appreciation event for the HGH Foundation, representatives from the orthopedic program presented the methods used to detect and repair bone fractures in hospital.

HGH’s operating room director of the medical device reprocessing department, Michael Flahauw, showcased specially designed screws that surprisingly resemble those sold in hardware stores. But Flahauw screws are used to repair simple fractures of the ankles and collarbones. Flahauw supervises the proper sterilization of devices and objects used in surgery.

For multiple fractures, locking screws and metal plates are placed to contain the bone and facilitate healing. Screws were generally only inserted at 90 degree angles. However, new varieties allow them to be inserted from different angles.

Flahauw also exhibited the drill and other tools that doctors use for orthopedic surgery. The drill looks like a regular electric drill, but smaller.

Arthroscopy, which includes knee surgery, has been available at HGH for two months now.

Director of Clinical Services Daniel Lebreux said arthroscopic surgery services in Hawkesbury will soon expand to include shoulder surgery. He said having these services available in Hawkesbury means patients don’t have to travel to Ottawa for the procedures.

Doctors use a small camera inside a small hand wand to look inside the knee and find out where the problems are and where work needs to be done. The small camera has an incredibly bright light and a variable zoom that allows doctors to see a lot and very closely.

To demonstrate, Lebreux used a green pepper, hidden inside a paper bag. Besides being excellent in a salad or on a pizza, he said that a green pepper is similar on the inside to a knee with passages. He said the seeds could even represent calcium or arthritis deposits.

As Lebreux moved the camera inside the green pepper, every fiber of the vegetable was visible in fine detail on a nearby screen, demonstrating the precision of the equipment.

HGH Medical Device Reprocessing Department Operating Room Manager Michael Flahauw holding one of the screws used to repair bone fractures in orthopedic surgery. Photo: James Morgan


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