Steadman Clinic Surgeon Speaks at American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Dr. Thomas Clanton Says Annual Meeting is an Important Showcase for New Products and Treatments That Have Been Scientifically Proven to Deliver the Best Patient Outcomes

Internationally recognized foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Thomas Clanton of The Steadman Clinic recently attended the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) annual meeting held at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas.

“This meeting has grown immensely since I started practice,” said Dr. Clanton. “Now there are thousands of surgeons attending, and hundreds of exhibitions. Education is its main purpose. Orthopaedic surgeons learn the best ways to treat certain conditions, see the new products available for treatment and hear about methods that have been scientifically proven to have the best patient outcomes.”

At AAOS, clinicians are exposed to sports medicine, arthroplasty, pediatrics and much more, including Dr. Clanton’s subspecialty, foot and ankle surgery.

“I participated in an Instructional Course Lecture on total ankle replacement,” said Dr. Clanton. “There are mainly two different types of ankle replacement: fixed-bearing systems and a mobile-bearing system. There’s good research on both, so we’re educating the audience on how to determine which one is best for the patient and the best way to use it.

“I have also given talks about the history of ankle replacements and ankle fusions. I focused on one system in particular—the Scandinavian Total Ankle Replacement (STAR) system designed in Denmark.

“In the past, there was controversy about fusion versus the STAR ankle. Now the answer is clearer. Two doctors, including my mentor Dr. Roger Mann and one of my best friends in orthopaedic foot and ankle, Dr. Michael Coughlan, set up an intense study with the FDA. After six years and nearly 700 ankle surgeries, STAR was deemed just as safe and effective as ankle fusion. There are other total ankle replacement systems I use, and sometimes I use open or arthroscopic fusions, but it’s determined on a case-by-case basis. STAR is the only replacement system with 15 years of data to back it up.”

Conferences like AAOS are important to surgeons, but Dr. Clanton believes they are just as important to patients. At AAOS, surgeons learn about the advancements made in orthopaedics and specifically in their subspecialty area. Much of what they learn comes directly from a lab.

“There’s a need for evidence-based medicine to confirm if one method or one form of treatment is better than another,” said Dr. Clanton. “That’s what we all want. We want the best possible treatment for our patients, but the research we need to make the right decisions isn’t always available in a timely fashion. That’s what makes the relationship between The Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) so important.

“SPRI is a private research institute so it doesn’t have the bureaucracy we see in medical schools and academic institutions. When I was at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, it produced incredible research but there was still the expected bureaucracy that made it more difficult to translate the research results into clinical care. At SPRI we work closely with our research group, which allows us to translate, almost immediately, the results of research into something that is extremely helpful for our patients.”

Another aspect of The Steadman Clinic and SPRI that Dr. Clanton speaks highly of is education, specifically the fellowship program and his former fellow Dr. Thomas Haytmanek.

“Tommy Haytmanek was one of our best fellows. He spent a year here with me after his residency training at Duke. Our staff loved him. He’s very smart, technically skilled and has a terrific personality. After fellowship, he took a position in Idaho with Dr. Michael Coughlin, the friend I mentioned before who was part of the STAR ankle study. Dr. Haytmanek worked with Michael for three years before I decided I needed some help. So, I lured him back to The Steadman Clinic. I think Michael is just about ready to speak to me again.”

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