The VII Convention of the Russian Association of Spinal Surgeons Gathers a Record Number of Participants

On May 27–28, the VII Convention of the Russian Association of Spinal Surgeons took place in the Korston Club hotel at Vorobyovy Gory in Moscow and was devoted to discussions of complications in spinal surgery. SRS Worldwide Course – 2016, an educational event put on by experts from the international Scoliosis Research Society, was also an important part of the Convention's program.

The Convention was held with the support of the Priorov Central Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedics and hosted 620 participants from Russia and all around the world, which is a record-breaking number in the history of the Russian Association of Spinal Surgeons annual meetings. The DePuy Synthes unit of Johnson & Johnson group was the event's main sponsor, and Stryker and Zimmer Biomet were other official partners. Forty-six leading domestic and foreign companies were featured in the exhibition held as part of the Convention. All in all, there were over 700 registered attendants.

The Conference attracted not only Russian spine surgeons, orthopedic traumatologists, neurosurgeons and neurologists, but also their colleagues from the USA, France, Holland, Brazil, Italy, Spain, China, South Korea, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Donetsk People's Republic, as well as from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Moldavia and Abkhazia. None of the previous conventions ever had such an overwhelming presence of international specialists.

The doctors took as their focus neurological and orthopedic complications during spinal cord and spinal surgeries, spinal orthotics, surgical treatment of traumas, degenerative diseases, and spinal cord and spinal column tumors. They determined the most efficient ways for diagnosing and treating complications, discussing matters of standardization in spinal surgery, minimally invasive technologies, and the specifics of training spine surgeons.

During his report at the first plenary meeting, Sergey Kolesov, M. D., full professor and head of the Spinal Pathology Department in Priorov CITO, member of the Scoliosis Research Society and chairman of the Convention's program committee, noted, "Nowadays 250 thousand Russian citizens have spinal deformities with their Cobb angle exceeding 30 degrees, in which case without corrective measures their scoliosis progresses. However, the number of surgeries performed annually is no more than 3 thousand. Overall, more than 2 million Russian citizens require surgical spinal intervention for various reasons, but there are only 40 thousand surgeries performed annually. As a reference: over 250 thousand spinal instrumentations are performed in the United States annually. However, the number of spinal surgeries in Russia is gradually increasing and new technologies are being put to use, so it is important to work on minimizing the number of complications and efficiently eliminating them without harming the patients."

This Convention, unlike the previous ones, was extremely practical in nature, and the doctors all readily shared their experiences. The subject of spinal surgery complications sparked great interest, as previously it was never a topic of conversation during conventions of the Russian Association of Spinal Surgeons. Thirteen plenary meetings were held within the span of 2 days, during which 35 leading Russian and foreign specialists made over 70 presentations on the main issues related to surgical spinal complications. A large portion of the event was dedicated to analyzing medical cases from practices of the Convention's attendees; almost 50 of them were reviewed, and this new format for the Association's annual meetings proved to be in very high demand.

Eleven master classes dedicated to teaching the modern technologies of spinal cord and spinal pathology treatment took place in parallel with the plenary meetings. These were conducted with the participation of doctors from the world's leading manufacturers of implants, medical equipment and special surgery tools: DePuy Synthes, Stryker, Zimmer Biomet, Medtronic, Karl Storz, as well as Russian companies NanoTechMed Plus, F-Sintez, KIMPF and Conmet. Many of the master classes enjoyed tremendous success, as people did not want to leave and continued asking questions even well after the course's time had run out.

Representatives of the Scoliosis Research Society highlighted a number of pressing topics concerning spinal deformity treatment during the plenary meetings and master classes, and also served as experts during clinical reviews. SRS is the world's most reputable non-commercial association of spinal surgeons, and was founded in the US in 1965. It currently includes over 1,000 members from 61 countries. The society facilitates optimal treatment for patients with spinal deformities while regarding this pathology in a broad sense, including congenital deformities, neuromuscular scoliosis, sagittal plane deformity, degenerative diseases, spondylolisthesis and tubercular spinal deformities.

During the Convention, the board of the Russian Association of Spinal Surgeons held an extended meeting. The subject was the Association's acceptance into the European Vertebrological Organization Eurospine as an affiliate member, which will provide Russian surgeons free access to Eurospine scientific materials and guarantee special benefits when registering for spinal congresses in Europe. Methods for further cooperation with the International Osteosynthesis Association (AO/ASIF) that was initiated in 2012 were also discussed at the board meeting. Another key topic was the creation of a national guide on surgical vertebrology.

At the moment, 350 doctors belong to the Russian Association of Spinal Surgeons and 29 Association Groups have been formed in various regions of Russia. For the Association to become national, the number of regional groups must be increased to 52, and during the Convention, it was decided to intensify work towards this goal. The Convention also recommended the Association's expert board to actively cooperate with the Ministry of Healthcare's commission on the development of standards and clinical recommendations. Another area of the Association's focus is developing fundamental research by seeking Russian and international grants.

The Association pays close attention to surgical vertebrology optimization approaches from the point of view of evidential medicine. During the Convention, the results of the first Russian spinal surgery multicentre study dedicated to the use of nitinol rods to stabilize spines were introduced as part of the KIMPF symposium. This research spanned over 2 years, and over 200 surgeries were performed on the basis of CITO in Moscow as well as a number of other medical facilities in other Russian regions.

Another multicentre clinical study related to the use of carbon nanostructural implants in spinal surgery was also recently launched, which is a wholly unique innovative solution of the Russian company NanoTechMed Plus. Carbon implants came on the scene in 2013 and are currently being used by spinal surgeons in Moscow CITO, Tsivyan NRITO in Novosibirsk, the St. Petersburg Phthisiopulmonology Research Institute and R. Vreden RRITO, as well as the Professor Ochapovsky Krasnodar Regional Clinical Hospital. Eighty-two surgeries were performed have already been performed with carbon implants for various spinal pathologies. Clinical testing for the use of carbon implants to substitute missing bone sections or create a bone block for treating trauma and musculoskeletal system diseases has begun.

The use of domestically produced implants in medical practices contributes to Russia's import substitution program and, according to the Convention's participants, should be extended if Russian manufacturers manage to live up to international quality standards, and also provided there are modern surgical instruments available for use. The Association is involved in a massive effort regarding the phaseout of medical equipment, and in 2016, it assisted in the launch of Russia's largest medical technology park in the RITO clinic in Novosibirsk to develop and clinically test new domestic medical equipment and products.

The Convention's participants emphasized that the full-scale development of domestic surgical vertebrology requires an improvement in cross-disciplinary cooperation between orthopedic traumatologists, neurosurgeons, oncologists and relevant departments in higher medical education institutions.

At the Convention's closing speech, the honorary chair of WWC and spinal surgery professor Marinus DeKlever (Netherlands) said, "I am greatly impressed with the scope of the Convention, the number of participants and the extremely high quality of presentations and discussions. Russia is a huge country where people live far away from one another, and yet Russian spinal surgeons are always in touch. The Russian Association of Spinal Surgeons is a strong organization; its members openly discuss not only achievements, but also problems as well, which means that it will continue its development successfully well into the future. I am looking forward to long-term cooperation between the SRS and Russia, for the spine does not have a nationality, and together we can achieve great things."

In conclusion, Artem Gushcha, M. D., RAS professor, head of the Neurosurgery Department of the Research Center of Neurology and president of the Russian Association of Spinal Surgeons noted that "while previously Russian spine surgeons often had arguments over how to treat patients, judging by the Convention's results they now have an understanding of international spinal pathology treatment standards, which is a significant step forward. It would be reasonable to devote the next convention to clinical recommendations and clinical vertebrology standards. We are counting on the aid of our foreign colleagues in this work as well."

According to current plans, the VIII Convention of the Russian Association of Spinal Surgeons will take place in Irkutsk under the support of the Research Center for Surgery and Traumatology.

Attention! The VII convention of the Russian Association of Spinal Surgeons will be broadcast online at Calcaneus.ru, a closed portal for traumatologists and orthopedists, on June 24–25.

About the Association:

The Russian Association of Spinal Surgeons (RASS) was formed in Novosibirsk in 2009. It publishes its own specialized journal called "Spinal Surgery." Association's web site: www.rass.pro.