AVON, Colorado — Once per year, the Vail Valley becomes the center of the universe for arthroscopic hip surgeons. This year, the annual Vail Hip Arthroscopy Symposium attracted more than 200 surgeons and medical professionals from around the globe to the Vail Valley.
The event was the 8th annual, and was hosted by Dr. Marc Philippon in conjunction with Smith & Nephew, a global medical technology business with a presence in more than 90 countries and more than $4.1 billion in annual sales in 2012. Dr. Philippon is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and hip disorders with The Steadman Clinic, an internationally recognized orthopedic surgery and sports medicine center in Vail. Philippon is also the co-chairman of the board, co-chief scientific officer, co-chief of the sports medicine fellowship program and director of hip research at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute, a charitable organization that collaborates with The Steadman Clinic to influence the practice of orthopedics throughout the world.
Orthopaedic surgeons and faculty from four different continents gathered to hear speeches from world leaders in hip arthroscopy and to learn the latest techniques associated with arthroscopic hip surgery.
"Our goal is to provide a forum where top leaders in the field can exchange thoughts," Philippon said at the event. "Young doctors who want to learn, they see and hear that exchange, and take it back home to provide a better experience for their patients."
Recognized by his peers as being among the top 1 percent in the nation in his specialty in US News and World Report, Dr. Philippon is internationally known for performing joint preservation techniques utilizing arthroscopic hip surgery to treat painful joint injury in high-level athletes who constantly use powerful hip rotation. He has treated close to 1,000 professional and Olympic athletes successfully, with many of them returning to high performance — winning Olympic medals and setting new NFL, NHL and MLB records and winning PGA tournaments. Such athletes include Greg Norman, Mario Lemieux, Kurt Warner, LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandt Snedeker, Milos Raonic, Sue Bird and recent Super Bowl Champion Ed Reed.
While Dr. Philippon said the lectures from leaders in the field were his favorite element of the event, they were far from the only educational component of the symposium.
"Surgeons will always ask me what's new in your technique, tomorrow I'm doing a live surgery and they're going to see it," he said. "So they can learn from that first hand."
After the lectures, Dr. Philippon spoke fondly of a presentation from this year that was different than anything the symposium has featured in years past. Dr. Robert Klapper, a surgeon-turned-sculptor who makes a yearly trip to Italy to train in a studio once used by Michelangelo, spoke on modern surgery's connection to sculpting.
"I thought his lecture was really cool because what we do, it's like sculpting," said Philippon. "It's both art and science."
Dr. Klapper said the need for a sculptor's touch in surgery is especially apparent for femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), a hip condition which can be treated by resculpting the "ball and socket" joint of the hip.
Dr. Klapper has invented and holds patents on several specially designed instruments for hip surgery procedures like Dr. Philippon's groundbreaking labral reconstruction which treats severe labral damage associated with FAI.
"While training in Italy I already knew surgery, I knew about residency training, and so I wanted to know how long it would take for me to become a master sculptor," Dr. Klapper said. "I was told 'the master sculptor hits the stone to the beat of his heart. And that's what you have here. The amount of time, the amount of work these doctors put in, it's to the beat of their hearts."
The symposium is a result of a partnership between The Steadman Philippon Research Institute and Smith & Nephew, a global medical technology company dedicated to helping improve people's lives through advanced products developed for orthopaedic surgery, wound management and sports medicine. A theme of this year's symposium was clinical-based evidence, to which Dr. Robert LaPrade, Chief Medical Officer for the Steadman Philippon Research Institute, shared his expertise.
"Having Dr. LaPrade speak, and having people understand what it actually takes to develop evidence, was just one more component that makes this the highest level of hip arthroscopy education in the world," said John Mahoney, Group Director of Medical Education for Smith & Nephew. "That's why people come from all over the world every year for this meeting, because they're getting together with their colleagues and investigating what is the best way to perform surgery and improve outcomes for their patients."
Mahoney and Philippon both said the energy at the symposium carries over to entire world of hip arthroscopy.
“The young docs that you see at this meeting, they are engaged here, they bring their hardest cases here," said Mahoney. "It will be 10 or 11 o'clock at night, the function will have ended, but they still will be working the room, pulling up an x-ray on their iPads and asking Dr. Philippon 'What would you do with this case?' in order to learn the tips and pearls from the experts. That's what's bringing the group together, the fact that they can bounce things off and learn from one another."