By: 5 December 2018
Key speakers help shape the future of knee surgery

Leela Biant welcomed delegates to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds for the third Orthopaedic Knee Conference


“A friend in need is a friend indeed” was a saying that proved very apt the morning of Friday 3 November. Chairman of OPN Knee Conference 2018, Mike McNicholas, was struck down with a virus the night before, so his friend and colleague Leela Biant stepped in, not only to chair the event but also to deliver his talk during the day, a role she took on with the ease and confidence of a true professional. Perhaps she took solace from the grand surroundings of the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, battling on in the face of adversity!

With a packed programme and some high profile speakers in attendance, we were hoping for another year of lively debate and heated discussions, and 2018 did not disappoint, with a bigger space and more attendees than ever before.

This year’s conference had the theme of ‘Shaping the future of knee surgery’ and the aims of the day were to explore and debate how to improve outcomes following knee surgery and how technological advances might help or hinder the process. Speakers looked at different methods available, and asked how, with advances in technology, what the future of knee surgery will look like.

After such a dramatic start to the day, delegates were soon invited into the first session, entitled: Training Future Surgeons – Can Technology Transform the Future of the NHS? It was an interesting start to the day, looking at two opposing practises currently used to help train future surgeons; Angela Spang, of the London Medical Academy, talked about the more hands-on experience of using cadaveric training, while Peter Rainger, of Fundamental VR, explored the virtual reality surgical simulation of VR training.

Newly-appointed chair Leela, Academic Head of Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics at the University of Manchester, encouraged some lively discussions and dynamic debate from the audience.

The second session looked at Improving Outcomes With Data Analysis, with Keith Tucker representing ODEP and Beyond Compliance, organisations encouraging innovation and improvements in patient outcome, while maintaining patient safety, with a more cost-effective delivery of care over time. One such issue focused on was that of incompatible components being implanted during joint surgery, and how the packaging and labelling could affect the result. Mel Ottewill, working as a national investigator within the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, spoke about the findings from a national investigation into implantation of the wrong prosthesis during surgery, and Keith also asked the question about what impact Brexit could have on these organisations and research.

New for this year were abstract presentations and within the morning session we heard from Marie-Clare Killen, Olivia Malley, Mark McMullen, Lee Yi-Hsuam and John Yorkston. Over the next few pages we have showcased some of their abstracts presented at the event, and you must look out for more in the New Year.

Throughout the day, in a large break-out area, a wide range of manufacturers and industry leaders were on hand to discuss their products and the latest innovations relating to knee surgery and practise. Companies included DePuy Synthes, Hospital Innovations and DJO Global.

Chris Lees, from DePuy, said: “It’s been a great event for us, and we’ve really enjoyed being involved, we’ve had excellent interactions with a lot of the delegates. We see ourselves as a futuristic company within the orthopaedic industry and with the future of knee surgery being the title of the event, it dovetails perfectly with what we’re trying to achieve as orthopaedic leaders within the knee replacement market.”

Mark Stewart, from Carestream, said: “We sponsor the event because we like to speak to decision-makers who choose whether or not the product will be purchased. Again the calibre of the event is excellent.”

Following lunch and a chance to look around the exhibition, delegates returned to the auditorium for the third session entitled Surgical Innovations and Sports Injuries.

Nowadays, younger and younger patients are presenting in need of knee replacements and patients’ expectations for improvement in function are higher than ever. Recent technological advances in biomedical engineering software have opened a new chapter on high-performance knee implants. Here, Leela Biant delivered two key presentations, looking at both recent advances in knee surgery technology and personalised solutions in articular cartilage surgery. While Ian McDermott, of London Sports Orthopaedics, looked at the latest developments in meniscal repair and meniscal replacement in the knee.

This was followed by abstract presentations by Amjad Burgan, Aliya Choudray, Hannah Morley, Dr Chitranjan Ranawat and Rachel Steedman.

Delegates were also treated to a look back at one of the giant’s of knee surgery, Professor Ian Smillie, by Bill Hadden. He spoke of how his innovations in the 1950s still influence us today.

Finally, in the fourth session we looked to the future and asked whether or not we’ll be replaced by robots in our working lives. Robotic surgery offers many benefits to patients compared with open surgery, including shorter hospital stay and faster recovery time, but is robotic-assisted technology superior to conventional methods? And is it worth the cost? If robotics and minimally invasive surgery is the future for knee surgeons, where can we expect to be in ten years time? Arj Imbuldeniya is all for it and explained his reasons for performing computer and robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery, while Ben Bloch, of Nottingham University Hospitals wasn’t sure and asked is robotics really the answer?

Closing the event, Chair Leela Biant said: “It’s been a really stimulating day. We’ve had a variety of speakers looking at different aspects of training, from simulation to the latest in technology, so it’s covered the whole breadth of innovations in knee surgery.”

Feedback from attendees at the event was very positive. Rajiv Deshmukh said: “It’s been interesting. Not only from the young people’s presentations of cases, but also some of the talks we heard from speakers about what the thinking is currently in the higher circles about knee replacements and the problems facing surgeons.”

Saeed Ali commented: “With the introduction of technologies in surgery and looking today at how it’s going to affect training for new surgeons, it was really fascinating. I am glad I came!”

We hope that as delegates left the venue by water taxi along Leeds’ canals, they felt mentally stimulated with the discussions and visually stimulated by the manufacturers and industry leaders, who supported the event and showcased their knee products.


We’re now looking ahead to our fourth OPN Knee Conference in Leeds in 2019 and hope to welcome new and returning delegates to the event. We will continue to keep you posted with all the latest news regarding our meeting, but if you are interested in attending, or if you require further information, please contact or call 0113 3357 2167.