With the Orthopaedic Knee Conference almost upon us, we talk to chairman Alister Hart about life as an orthopaedic surgeon
OPN: As a specialist in knee surgery, could you tell us more about your experience and training background in this field?
AH: I learnt knee surgery on the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital SpR rotation, which included experience in knee trauma at the Royal London Hospital and massive joint replacement surgery at the RNOH, Stanmore. Memorable surgical teachers included George Dowd, Paul Allen and Steve Cannon. I have worked with knee surgeons from New York, Boston, Switzerland, Finland and Germany.
OPN: What do you hope the delegates will leave with at the end of the one-day conference?
AH: I hope they will have learnt something that will help them treat their patients. I expect this will involve new knowledge on the use of technology for knee surgery, in particular the increasing use of imaging technology which is enabling improved diagnosis and also guiding surgeons and robots during surgery.
OPN: Who should attend the event?
AH: Anyone who treats patients with knee problems.
OPN: How do you think the future looks in the field of orthopaedics?
AH: Knee problems are due to increase over the next 20 years. For example, knee replacement will at least double.
OPN: What drove you to choose surgery as a career – and orthoapedic surgery in particular?
AH: I like solving technical problems and I am fascinated by the multiple factors that make us all different. I like getting to grips with complex problems to provide a simple answer.
OPN: What’s the best part of your job?
AH: Meeting interesting people from all over the world: patients, surgeons, physiotherapists and students.
OPN: … and the worst?
AH: Dealing with awkward patients.
OPN: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
AH: Receiving a huge cheer from the audience of the UCL annual awards after I said: “I spent five years at Imperial College, UCL is better…”
OPN: If you weren’t an orthopaedic surgeon, what would you be?
AH: An outdoor pursuits instructor.
OPN: What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
AH: Keep fit so you can keep doing more of everything.
OPN: If you were Health Minister for the day, what changes would you implement?
AH: I would put doctors in charge of hospitals.
OPN: Away from the clinic and operating theatre what do you do to relax?
AH: I walk, run, ski and kayak as far as possible, ideally in wild places with friends and family, and finishing with a campfire. In reality, I spend most of my time on Hampstead Heath and at my tennis club.
Professor Alister Hart is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, specialising in hip and knee problems, at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust in Stanmore, London. In 2011 he was appointed as the chair of academic clinical orthopaedics at University College London. He has published 120 pubmed journal articles, raised more than £5m in grants and performed more than 3,000 operations, including 1,000 primary or revision hip and knee replacements. His research interests focus on how to achieve lifelong function for the three million patients who undergo hip and knee replacements worldwide every year.
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