For the week of January 20, 1999   thru January 26, 1999  

Surgeons and exhibitors rave about SV convention

Express Staff Writer

j20doctors.jpg (12976 bytes)Vendors turn to macabre displays to attract the eyes of passing surgeons on the floor of the transformed indoor ice arena in Sun Valley last week. (Express photo by Willy Cook)

If you were going to tear an ACL or crush your knee cap, last week would have been the best week to do it.

You would have probably been within earshot of some 400 orthopedic surgeons, who converged in Sun Valley for the 20th annual Robert W. Metcalf, M.D. Memorial meeting.

In Sun Valley’s hockey rink Sunday through Friday, the cadre of international surgeons shared state-of-the-art arthroscopic and reconstructive techniques and tested the latest tools of their trade displayed by 150 exhibitors.

And, it seems, the surgeons did a lot of recreating.

The program schedule virtually insisted that the orthopedists play in the snow. Only mornings and evenings were reserved for lectures, so that surgeons could have ample leisure time. On every page of the program, surgeons found exhortations like "Wax’em up, ski’em down" or "Head for Baldy."

Evidently, many of the surgeons succumbed. On Friday, the final day of the meeting, almost every surgeon in the hall lumbered in with ski boots and full ski garb.

The indoor ice rink was transformed, resembling a macabre set of an alien invader movie. Harried organizers wearing high-tech head sets maneuvered between the artificial limbs that jutted the aisles. Sculptural alloys that would be knees and shoulders glistened everywhere. Spirals of menacing screws and pins patterned the tables. A few warrior-like exhibitors wielded sharp, metal-probing tools in the air, in a seemingly futile bid for passersby.

Friday was a day for revisionists--not philosophical revisionists, but knee revisionists.

A lecture titled "Principles of Revision," broadcast throughout the rink, offered tips on how best to salvage knees. "Once you’ve got the fibial component in place, you know where the femur should match," the voice of Dr. Harold Dunn droned.

Exhibitors, who may not have a lot of time to wax their skis, did wax enthusiastic about the week.

"We’re reaching people from all over the world," said Marsha Gonzales, a representative for the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that is the largest tissue bank in the world.

The high point of the week, Gonzales said, came during a short break from the exhibit.

"I had the best massage of my life at Solavie," Gonzales said.

Bookseller Jan Bunker, who represents W.B. Saunders Co., a Salt Lake City publisher of medical journals and texts, referred to the Metcalf Memorial meeting as the "ski meeting."

"It’s a working vacation for most here," Bunker said, with added emphasis on ‘vacation.’

Of his texts, Bunker said "The Shoulder" beat out the "The Hand" in sales, despite the remarkable cover image of Rembrandt’s "The Anatomy Lesson" on "The Hand."

Clad in ski bibs and gripping a plate of creme puffs, surgeon Hywel Davies from South Wales, UK, said the week was "an assurance that I’m not behind the times, and not out on a limb."

When asked what had been the highlight of the week, Davies said, "We drove down to Twin Falls."

Stateside surgeon William Fritz from Franklin, Penn., had high praise for the Sun Valley Company.

"I’m impressed with the facilities here," he said. "The ski school is fantastic."

Of the seminars, Dr. Fritz said, "It’s great to become aware and familiar with the changes and techniques, and with where we are going in the future."

Many of these surgeons will likely go back to Sun Valley in the future, if spouses like Kim Klein have their say.

"It has been the best vacation we’ve ever had," said Klein, on the way out of the rink with her six-year-old son, Kevin. "We’ve never been to a place with such friendly people."

The Klein family traveled from Santa Rosa, Calif., for the meeting.

"We had a bad time yesterday," Kevin interjected during his mother’s accolades. Daddy got grumpy."

Mrs. Klein laughed. "Well, that’s nothing unusual," she said.


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