Idaho State Journal

September 30th, 2016

Chinese Surgeons Come to Portneuf for Training

Would it surprise you to learn the average stay for joint replacement patients in China is tenfold what it is at Portneuf Medical Center’s Total Joint Center in Pocatello?

Part of this success belongs to Aaron Altenburg, an orthopedic surgeon and fellowship training joint reconstructive surgeon practicing at PMC. His knowledge will soon travel over 7,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

“Technology is vastly different between countries,” Altenburg said. “I’ve done over 500 revisions with the system that we’re using, and they’re just getting it in China. For them, this is brand new technology. So to be able to see six surgeries in one day and how to use the system gives them a big jump back home.”

Altenburg’s latest trainees include surgeons Lao Shan from Guangxi and Zhou Liping from Guangdong, China, who, on Monday, observed several joint revision surgeries performed on cadavers.

The observation is part of an education process focused on improving the recovery from joint surgery that will benefit both patients and health care providers.

According to Pat Rasmussen, the Total Joint Center nurse manager, about 1,000 patients will undergo joint replacement or revision at the Total Joint Center this year.

Most of the patients undergoing joint repair or replacement at PMC typically stay about two days after surgery. In China, the same surgery can keep patients in the hospital up to 20 days.

By implementing a rapid-recovery program, Altenburg’s patients see better pain control, become mobile quicker and encounter common consequences like clotting or infection far less often.

“I do some work with DePuy, which is one of the many implant companies,” Altenburg said. “They’ve asked, because of my expertise, to help teach other surgeons. I’ve been fortunate enough to teach, both domestically and internationally, how to do joint revisions and replacements.”

Altenburg said putting patients through joint school before surgery is a major reason this program is so successful.

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