Steadman Clinic knee surgeon Dr. Robert LaPrade uses Facebook Live to demonstrate orthopedic procedures to a global audience | VailDaily.com

Steadman Clinic knee surgeon Dr. Robert LaPrade uses Facebook Live to demonstrate orthopedic procedures to a global audience

Laura Bell
Special to the Daily

VAIL — A torn ACL is one of the most prevalent injuries for skiers, but the injury is not limited to two-plankers. In fact, there are approximately 366,000 ACL reconstructions performed annually in the United States, according to the Steadman Clinic.

On Friday, Oct. 20, aspiring doctors, practicing surgeons and those (with a strong stomach) interested in the procedure can stream a Facebook Live video to watch renowned Steadman Clinic knee surgeon Dr. Robert LaPrade perform this operation on a cadaver knee.

The power of Facebook

So why Facebook, of all venues?

"Because I believe it is very important to try to teach as many people as possible the things that we have discovered in our lab," LaPrade said. "The Facebook series allows us to exponentially increase the coverage to a very large international community.

"The importance of the Facebook series that we have performed is that we are able to reach a much larger audience than we can solely by teaching sports medicine fellows and visiting surgeons in Vail. We are recognized as having the top sports medicine fellowship in the country."

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LaPrade serves as chief medical officer and co-director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship Program at The Steadman-Philippon Research Institute. He is also chairman of the Sports Medicine Committee of The International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine and is on the Board of Directors of the Vail Valley Surgery Center.

He noted that the fellowship could only teach a limited number of fellows per year.

"By exposing others via Facebook to a live surgical dissection or reconstruction in a cadaver, we can point out pearls and pitfalls in a reconstruction, which may allow somebody to improve their overall surgical technique," he said.

As it is a cadaver, it might make those prone to being queasy a little less so. If you are a layperson planning on watching, then just internally recite the mantra, "It's not a live person."

Yes, LaPrade said, it is mainly orthopedic surgeons who watch the event. Some of the audience includes medical students and residents who are interested in orthopedic surgery. Past research has found that the Facebook Live audience includes surgeons in multiple countries, with a very large number in South America.

WARNING: The video below is graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers. The article continues beneath the video.  

Viewership equal to a concert at Red Rocks

"The impetus for the series was to try to expand our teaching opportunities outside the limited exposure that we can do in Vail, as well as when we are faculty at courses," LaPrade said.

"To date, our Facebook Live series has reached over 10,000 participants per viewing. This allows us to demonstrate some of the unique things that we have developed and validated here at The Steadman-Philippon Research Institute to a much larger audience."

Since its inception, LaPrade has completed three Facebook Live cadaver surgeries. The surgeons try to do a live surgical dissection on a hot topic about every six months.

LaPrade believes this allows the Institute to make sure that they are not saturating the message but also responding to the needs of people who may wish to improve their surgical skills and cannot afford to travel to the United States or other international locations for a course to learn these skills.

"He already had a stellar reputation … now you can add 'internet maverick' to the list of glowing words used to describe him," wrote a journalist from Orthopedics This Week.

Cadavers film better

To date, the team has only used cadavers.

"This allows us to point out things that we may not be able to point out in a live patient," LaPrade said. "It also allows for an increased level of dissection to be able to provide good visualization for the anatomical structures that we are trying to demonstrate to the audience. In addition, we can point out some pitfalls of a surgical procedure and demonstrate what happens with these.

"Obviously, these are much better demonstrated in a cadaver. In addition, the use of cadavers allows us to have live questions on Facebook and to go back and further demonstrate some of the structures or perform a more extensive dissection to further expose other structures that the audience may wish to see."

The first three videos can be viewed on LaPrade's Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/kneespecialist. In one, LaPrade performed a knee dissection and covered the anatomy and biomechanics of the post cruciate ligament. He then preformed an anatomic double bundle post cruciate ligament reconstruction.

Watch it live

Dr. Robert LaPrade’s next Facebook Live video, “Anatomic ACL Reconstruction,” will stream at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 20. Viewers of the event can post questions as comments during the lecture, and they will be answered at the end of the dissection. To view previous videos, visit LaPrade’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/kneespecialist. “Like” the page and have your follow notifications set to “on” for suggested live videos.