At the beginning of November, an event significant for the prestige of Latvia and Latvian professionals – the AOSPine European symposium for spinal surgeons – took place in Riga, in the Radisson Blu Latvija hotel. It was dedicated to disorders and traumas of the cervical spine. Compared to the lumbar spine, the number of practicing surgeons who specialize in treatment of the cervical spine is significantly smaller, due to the complexity and high precision of the solutions. Two days of the symposium were dedicated to deepened studies and were attended by professionals with at least five years of experience from the Baltics, Scandinavia, Asia and Europe. The symposium in Latvia was organised and facilitated by the spinal surgeon Artis Gulbis of the ORTO clinic, who is an official AOSpine educator and has been active within this association of professionals for 16 years.
AOSpine is the world’s elitist and most progessive association for spinal surgery and research, established by leading Swiss spinal surgeons in the 50s of the previous century. Their goal was to create classifications that would help their colleagues worldwide in the assessment of patients and surgery on the basis of uniform guidelines. Systems developed by the organization are used by traumatology, orthopaedy and spinal surgery clinics worldwide. Including Latvia.
The goal of the AOSpine symposium in Riga was to summarize, present and discuss innovative solutions, research and technologies. The work of the symposium was organised into 12 modules. Each theme was introduced by a lecture based on the summary of latest research, the presentation of a complex and ambiguous case study, workshops with the purpose to find the treatment strategy solution for the casework, a joint discussion and the introduction to the solution of the author of the presented case. Practical work within the symposium did no involve cadaver surgery or training models, it was conducted on the level of the mind/intelect with activation of cognitive processes. Lectures were delivered by high-level cervical surgery practitioners from Germany, Norway, Finland, Lithuania and Latvia.
The one who benefits most is the patient
“Such events bring benefits on many different levels,” says Artis Gulbis, reflecting on the acquired experience, “However, the main goal is to find the best solution for the patient. Not the most complex, expensive or cheap solution but one that would improve the patients’ health and quality of life with certainty. Therefore it is essential to conduct scientific research and analyze the conclusions and to choose a knowledge-based approach and solutions,” Artis Gulbis emphasizes.
He notes that experience sharing and continuity is equally important at such conferences. “There is no division into more knowledgeable, younger or more experienced specialists, even though some of the participants have defended several dissertations and are in charge of major universities and clinics. The principle of communication is based on mutual respect and a common wish to bring spinal surgery to an aligned level and principles, so that the patient would know that a similar approach would be chosen to solve a certain problem both in a luxurious Swiss clinic or in Latvia. Depending on the means available to the clinic, the instruments, technical equipment or implants may differ, however, regardless of all that, a successful result largely depends on the surgical solution,” underlines Artis Gulbis.
A place to recharge your battery
He also mentions that such international symposia where members of the professional elite come together is not only a platform for concentrated knowledge and experience but also a place where immense exchange and recharging of energy takes place. “It is worthwhile participating in such events at least once or twice a year, because the physician returns full of enthuasiasm, with more self-confidence. They infuse the energy they take home with them into their work, medical consultations and surgery. Eventually the one who gains most is the patient,” says Artis Gulbis describing the energy exchange cycle.
Artis Gulbis not only facilitated the AOSpine symposium in Riga, he also delivered several lectures, admitting that at first sight the event that seemed to run so smoothly had required very many hours of work, endless research work analysis and summarization and constant thinking. Nevertheless, due to their enthuasiasm and idealism, the Latvian and Baltic spinal surgeons are keeping up with the level of their international colleagues in their profession, earning attention and respect within AOSpine. Therefore, already for the fifth year, the training courses are organised in the Baltic States, for the second time in Riga. Next year, the symposium will be organized by Lithuania.