March 2017

Globus Medical Fellowship Reports

Nelson Astur, MD
Santa Casa de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
2016 Globual Medical Fellowship Award Recipient
The Hong Kong Spine Experience: A Brazilian Spine Surgeon in Hong Kong
October – November, 2016

In June this year, I was awarded a SRS Globus Medical Fellowship. I was able to spend three weeks at a spinal deformity center staffed by active SRS members. Among numerous available fellowship centers in the world, I ended up choosing the farthest place from my hometown of São Paulo, Brazil. Taking into consideration the leading role of Asia in spinal deformity surgery and innumerous high impact publications coming from this part of the world, I elected The University of Hong Kong (UHK), Hong Kong as my host center. Furthermore, the historic and current reputation of the spine team in Hong Kong was the final element to define my choice.

As scary as it could be applying for a fellowship in a country where the main language is Chinese, Hong Kong is an extremely international town and fortunately, the official language at Queen Mary Hospital and other medical facilities there is English. And although food could be a barrier, besides Western meals that are available everywhere, it was part of the whole cultural experience to try Asian routine meals, which had become really enjoyable during my stay. Thus, with all problems solved, I started my fellowship in Shenzhen, Mainland China, where I could experience the power of China in building gigantic facilities, such as the UHK Shenzhen Hospital. I had two days with Prof. Kenneth Cheung following surgery of severe spine deformities undergoing major correction, such as a lumbar kyphosis in an achondroplasic patient and severe scoliosis in an ostegenesis imperfecta patient.

With such a nice start, the following three weeks were all in Hong Kong, half of it at Queen Mary Hospital, and the other half at Duchess of Kent Children’s Hospital. My reception was very pleasant with a very competent, passionate, and extremely hard working staff directed by Dr. YW Wong and Prof. Keith Luk. Whenever I had a question, all efforts were done to answer it. Feeling like a member of the group, I was exposed to ward visits, clinics, inpatient care, staff meetings, preoperative meetings, and surgeries, surgeries, surgeries. Cases presented and operated in such a short-period fellowship were very rich and interesting. Pediatric and adult deformity, oncology spine, revision surgery, cervical spine, infection, and degenerative cases were all taken care of; feeling like there was no space for simple disc herniations. It was a very good opportunity to improve skills in decision-making and operative techniques, such as osteotomies, vertebral resection, laminoplasties, pelvic fixation and so on.

As it could not get any better, lucky me, the 7th SRS Spine Deformity Solutions: A Hands-On Course took place in Hong Kong during my time there, and as a fellow, I was invited to attend as a participant and also help in monitoring. An amazing opportunity to learn with SRS’s leaders such as Dr. Lawrence Lenke, Dr. Munish Gupta, Dr. Christopher Ames, Dr. Ahmet Alanay, Dr. Kuniyoshi Abumi, and many others.

Other than busy three hard working weeks, Hong Kong turned out to be a very pleasant city, with a busy and vibrant downtown, balanced by nice neighborhoods and beaches surrounded by rich nature and fresh sea breeze. Tourism is always an option too there, which made my weekends fully enjoyable. Finally, thank you to SRS and HKU, especially Prof. Ken Cheung, for providing a great experience in spine care, which I will certainly apply in my routine practice in São Paulo, Brazil.

Rajat Mahajan, MD
Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi, India
2016 Globus Medical Fellowship Award Recipient

I was happy and thrilled when I got the news about my fellowship from the SRS office. I was happy that I would be able to work with the likes of Prof. Kenneth Cheung, Dr. Wong, and Prof. Keith Luk and learn from them. Moreover the Queen Mary Hospital has been a legacy to one of the best and finest spine surgeons of the world.

I arrived in Hong Kong on January 8, 2017. My fellowship duration was for three weeks. I took one day to rest and was on to my work the next day. My work involved observing spine surgeries in two hospitals, Queen Mary hospital and Duchess of Kent Children’s hospital. I stayed in a hotel, which was not far away from the hospital. All my travel, accommodations, and meal expenses were covered through the fellowship.

On my first day, I met Dr. Paul who is a young dynamic spine surgeon. I found Dr. Paul to be a very well informed, amicable, and an unpretentious person. I learned a lot from him especially examining scoliosis patients, distal radius and ulna classification to assess maturity, ITB pump, and other fine tricks of clinical examination. I had an opportunity to work with Prof. Keith Luk, Dr. Wong and Prof. Cheung. I had an opportunity to observe transarticular C1C2 fixation with Prof. Keith Luk, which was new for me. I had an opportunity to attend grand rounds and was impressed with the academic discussion that followed on rounds. I was also mesmerized with the emphasis on the research in the hospital. I had an opportunity to work in the Outpatient Department with Dr. Wong. He is a great teacher and a fine human being. He taught me the conservative aspects of spine surgery and strengthened my belief that not all spine ailments require surgery. I also had an opportunity to observe one AIS correction with him in the OR.

Prof. Cheung, being the chief of the department of spine and orthopaedics, still took time to greet me and introduce me to the other members of the department. I had never thought that in my young age as a spine surgeon, I would be working with the SRS President. It was a dream come true for me when he asked me to join him in a Shilla deformity corrective procedure for early onset scoliosis. On the weekend, I went to see the tourist spots in the city and enjoyed the flavors of Hong Kong. I took my flight back home on January 27.  It was a very memorable trip in my career. I would like to thank Scoliosis Research Society for giving me this opportunity to be one of the proud fellowship winners.