Interdisciplinary AO initiative

04. October 2018

Pioneering AO Soft-Tissue Management Course Successfully Launched

The first pilot course Fundamentals of Soft-Tissue Management was successfully held in Hamburg​ (DE). The course, which is part of a pioneering new interdisciplinary AO initiative, took place September 28 and 29, 2018, and was attended by 36 participants from different surgical specialties. This is the first of many educational activities being developed by a group of surgeons representing all the AO clinical divisions.

The AO Soft-Tissue Management Initiative began in 2017 with an educational grant from Ethicon, which is widely known in the field as a global provider of wound management solutions. It aims to develop competency-based curricula leveraging expert knowledge from across the AO's broad and diverse community of surgeons teaching the principles and current treatment standards for soft-tissue injuries, deformities, and scars.

The need for this course comes from the fact that improper management of soft tissue can lead to undesirable outcomes even where osteosynthesis itself is ideal. Risks include surgical site infection (SSI) – and these can be significantly reduced by applying standardized approaches. The groundwork for the initiative was put originally led by AO Past President Nik​olaus Renner, who ensured that soft-tissue management was a priority for the foundation during his presidential term. 

The course was created by surgeons who are all experts in this area and who had been nominated for this activity by their respective AO division under an AO Education Institute backwards planning process. With the leadership of Damir Matic (AOCMF), a curriculum taskforce including David Volgas (AOTrauma), Yves Harder (AOTrauma), Salvatore Lettieri (AOCMF), Olivier Gauthier (AOVET), and Joseph Cheng (AOSpine​) developed a competency-based curriculum framework for soft-tissue treatment. From this broad curriculum, they designed a two-day course for practicing surgeons in all stages of their career.

Featuring 11 international cross-divisional faculty members, this first pilot event under this new initiative offered a highly interactive setting for participants to explore and learn about the principles of soft-tissue management, the treatment of surgical and traumatic wounds, and strategies for the treatment of chronic wounds. Putting knowledge into practice, a half-day anatomical specimen lab was also organized using porcine models.

The feedback from this first course was excellent, participants praised it as "very enjoyable," involving "a lot of motivated teachers," and "a good balance between lectures and small groups." They also described it as "a course that should have been put together a long time ago," which indicates the real need for exactly this approach.

In the run-up to this event, symposia on the subject were held to gauge the appetite for a full-scale course. The interest among key audiences proved to be huge and places at this Hamburg course sold out immediately. The plan now is to expand the educational offerings in soft-tissue management to wider audiences under the AO Foundation umbrella. 

The aim is for Soft Tissue Management courses to be run in all AO regions, and since it is a cross-divisional initiative – it can be adapted to suit the needs of practicing surgeons and operating room personnel in all fields. To support this expansion, we will develop a pool of AO faculty experts in soft-tissue management.
The next cross-divisional AO Soft-Tissue Management Initiative will hold its next event in Dubai (AE) on October 17, 2018​.


Icon Faculty und participants of the first "AO Fundamentals of Soft-Tissue" course September 28 and 29 in Hamburg, Germany.
Icon The first group of faculties from different AO Clinical Divisions that was educated to teach in the new course format globally underwent a two-day training prior to the pilot course.