By: 1 October 2009

Edinburgh was chosen as a fitting venue for the 13th symposium on Bioceramics and Alternative Bearings in Joint Arthroplasty. This event runs annually and brings together renowned world experts providing an excellent opportunity for an interdisciplinary exchange of views and experience between surgeons, engineers and scientists.

This is the first time the conference has been held in the United Kingdom. The choice of venue was the Dalmahoy Hotel and country club with its Baronial Manor, breathtaking scenery and incredible views of Edinburgh Castle made it an excellent choice for such a symposium.

Professor Justin Cobb, our congress chairman is to be congratulated on chairing an excellent meeting, which delivered the highest quality and most up to date information from an internationally renowned faculty. Several major innovations and contributions were recognised that have been developed by the UK Orthopaedic surgical community.

The symposium was held over 2 days and was divided into five sessions covering areas such as patient selection and planning; materials; complications; tribology and future applications. Not only were the lectures informative and succinct there was ample opportunity for discussion with invited questions from the audience at the end of each session.

The congress provided delegates with strong evidence for the clinical use of ceramic bearings in total hip arthroplasty as well as metal on metal. Professor Cobb highlighted the importance of patient selection, pre operative planning and surgical abilities in determining the choice of implant and bearing. We also heard of the changing trends of hip arthroplasty in the UK and how this compared to the USA, Australia and the rest of Europe.

There was also the opportunity for discussion regarding implant choice which was chaired by Dan Berry (Mayo Clinic, USA). Evidence was presented and discussed for the different options available in hip arthroplasty. What was clear from this discussion was the huge variety and choice available to the hip surgeon with regards to wear couples and that there is often 'no one answer option' for every patient. The importance of acetabular component positioning and avoidance of impingement in any bearing articulation was emphasised by several speakers.

We were introduced to the new alumina matrix composite, BIOLOX® Delta. Ceramtec claim that this high performance ceramic has superior mechanical properties such as increased fracture toughness, strength and has excellent biocompatibility. BIOLOX® Delta inserts have smaller minimum wall thicknesses, and were introduced to enable the use of larger head diameters together with cups exhibiting small external diameters. What was impressive was the fact that with a BIOLOX® delta you can implant a 36mm femoral head in a 50mm cup. These claims were backed up by numerous clinical studies presented at the conference.

Over the course of the two days, there was a chance to meet the representatives and the faculty who were extremely welcoming and approachable. This contributed to the relaxed feel of the conference. This was a well organised, informative meeting held in an excellent venue. Ceramtec are to be commended for their efforts in bringing this meeting to the UK.