Sharing Expertise with International Colleagues

In the last three years, over 200 surgeons from 31 countries have traveled to the Daniel and Jane Och Spine Hospital to learn advanced and innovative surgical techniques from Dr. Lawrence Lenke and his colleagues. During their time here, they observe and participate in surgeries and benefit from clinical discussions. “Our visitors program offers an opportunity for visiting surgeons to receive advanced training that they otherwise wouldn’t have in their own countries — particularly in treating patients with spinal deformities,” says Carolyn Colacicco, Administrator.

The physicians, who spend from two weeks up to a year at the Spine Hospital, observe operations from a state-of-the-art surgical viewing room. Each of the operating rooms is equipped with a camera above the OR table and in the physician headpiece to provide two viewpoints. “They can view exactly what I’m seeing from my perspective, as well as the entire operating room,” says Dr. Lenke. Each day, two visiting surgeons are also allowed direct access into the OR to enhance their educational experience.

Visitors attend a weekly conference at which faculty present and discuss each case scheduled for the week, as well as review previous surgeries. “Our visitors are also a central part of our research efforts. Many of our visiting surgeons partner with faculty to design and manage studies and become co-authors on publications during their time here,” says Ms. Colacicco.

Dr. Lehman with visiting physicians

Dr. Ronald A. Lehman, Jr. (front row, third from left) joins visiting physicians from Latin America and China.

Recently, one of the visitors who joined the program primarily to work with the faculty on research initiatives was nominated for the Scoliosis Research Society’s Thomas Whitecloud Award for a research study, “Prevalence and Predictive Factors for Concurrent Cervical Cord Compression in Adult Spinal Deformity.”

At any one time, the Spine Hospital hosts between eight and 15 surgeons who are immersed in the full complement of educational programs. “It speaks volumes about our program that these surgeons take time out of their practices and their lives to come and visit us,” adds Dr. Lenke. “It’s an honor to be part of that because we understand how important it is that they get the training they need to improve their surgical skills to take back to their hospital in their home countries to best treat their own patients.”