By Steven Kane, M.D.
The Atlanta Medical Center department of orthopaedics is responsible for training 20 residents and providing comprehensive musculoskeletal trauma care to our patients.
The practice of orthopaedics covers a wide range of subspecialties, including trauma, joint reconstruc-tion and foot and ankle, hand, pediatric, oncology and sports medicine surgery. The Atlanta Medical Center focuses its care on trauma and joint reconstruction as well as the post-traumatic care of these patients. This begins with the Director of Orthopaedic Traumatology, Dr. Daniel Schlatterer, in concert with a team of orthopaedic surgeons and residents.
Orthopaedic traumatology covers broken bones and traumatic soft tissue injuries including muscle, tendons and ligaments in both upper and lower extremities as well as the pelvis and hip/acetabulum. It also encompasses the post-traumatic reconstruction of joints that have developed arthritis as well as bones that have either not healed (nonunion) or not healed in proper alignment (malunion). Orthopaedic traumatology also specializes in infection management of the musculoskeletal system in both acute and chronic settings. Atlanta Medical Center offers comprehensive care of all of these complex orthopaedic issues.
In its simplest form, orthopaedic traumatology focuses on fixing broken bones and caring for the soft tissues that surround these bones. This can be accomplished in many ways. Current forms of treat-ment include external fixation, internal fixation with plates/screws/intramedullary nails, joint replace-ment and/or a combination of these methods. Each fracture and injury is unique, so having a center and a team that specializes in managing these injuries allows a high level of care to be delivered and ensures the patient’s best chance for a full recovery. The goal of fracture fixation is to allow the bones to main-tain an anatomic alignment while they heal so the patient can regain their function in as short a time frame as possible.
In some instances, a fracture that extends into the joint is better served by replacing the joint, especially in the geriatric population where prolonged immobilization can be a large burden to their overall health. The orthopaedic trauma team at AMC specializes in these surgeries, providing joint replacements in both traumatic and arthritic situations affecting the hip, knee, shoulder, ankle and elbow. Joint replacement allows for immediate weight bearing with the goal of returning the patient to their pre-injury level of function.
It takes a team of specialists to provide comprehensive care, and Dr. Schlatterer is re-sponsible for overseeing the education of future orthopaedists in the treatment of musculo-skeletal trauma at the AMC orthopaedic residency program. The residents receive comprehen-sive training concerning trauma care in both a surgical and clinical setting over a five-year period. Roughly half of this time is spent at the trauma center, and this serves as the back-bone of all orthopaedic education.
The residents play an integral role in assisting Dr. Schlatterer and the rest of the or-thopaedic trauma team in caring for the traumatically injured patient. This begins the mo-ment the patient enters the trauma bay until they are discharged home or to a rehab facility and continues in the outpatient clinics. As a teaching institution, the Atlanta Medical Center is on the cutting edge of providing orthopaedic trauma care as the faculty and residents en-sure the latest advancements are being employed and researched.