Knee surgery and broken bones remind us of old age, or a ski trip gone wrong.  However, doctors can, and do help people who need knee surgery or repair for bone fractures — locally — at the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital (HGH).

At a recent donor appreciation event for the HGH Foundation, representatives from the Orthopedic Program displayed methods used to detect and repair broken bones at the hospital.

HGH Operating Room Manager of the Medical Device Reprocessing Department Michael Flahauw displayed specially designed screws that look surprisingly like what is sold in hardware stores. But the screws Flahauw has are used to repair simple fractures in ankles and clavicles.  Flahauw oversees the proper sterilization of devices and objects used in surgery.

For multiple fractures, locking screws and metal plates are put in place to contain the bone and facilitate healing.  Screws were generally inserted only at 90-degree angles.  However, new varieties allow them to be inserted at different angles.

Flahauw also displayed the drill and other tools doctors use for orthopedic surgery.  The drill looks like an ordinary power drill, but smaller.

Arthroscopy, which includes knee surgery, has been available at HGH for two months now.

Director of Clinical Services Daniel Lebreux said arthroscopic surgery services in Hawkesbury will soon expand to include shoulder surgery.  He said that having theses services available in Hawkesbury means patients do not have to travel to Ottawa for the procedures.

Doctors use a small camera inside a small hand-held wand to look inside the knee and find out where the problems are and where work must be done.  The small camera has an incredibly bright light and variable zoom that allows doctors to see a lot, and very close up.

To demonstrate, Lebreux was using a green pepper, concealed inside a paper bag.  In addition to being great in a salad or on a pizza, he said a green pepper is similar inside to a knee with passageways.  He said the seeds could even represent deposits of calcium or arthritis.

As Lebreux moved the camera around inside the green pepper, every fibre of the vegetable was visible in fine detail on a nearby screen, demonstrating the equipment’s precision.

HGH Operating Room Manager of the Medical Device Reprocessing Department Michael Flahauw holding one of the screws used to repair broken bones in orthopedic surgery. Photo: James Morgan