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About Prof. MD T. Gehrke
The HELIOS ENDO Hospital in Hamburg is Europe’s largest specialist centre for bone, joint and spinal surgery. Every year the HELIOS ENDO medical staff help restore mobility to more than 6,700 people. All these patients, many of whom come from abroad, are happy to put their trust in the hospital’s team of highly skilled doctors and nurses. Senior consultant Professor Thorsten Gehrke is a specialist in single-stage prosthesis replacements, a form of treatment recommended for cases of artifi cial joint infection.
In the field of endoprosthetics, an infection to an artificial joint is a serious complication. Infected artificial joints can be life-threatening if the infection spreads to other parts of the body. Swift specialist treatment in the form of surgery is advised for affected patients in all cases.
Infections can, of course, occur at any time in the human body, though an endoprosthetic infection occurs in only one to two per cent of all people who have been fitted with a prosthesis, an operation that is now performed more than 400,000 times a year in Germany.
Replacing the prosthesis in a single surgical procedure is a particular speciality of the ENDO Hospital in Hamburg. The old prosthesis and any infected tissue is removed in just one operation; once the infection has been completely eliminated, a new prosthesis is fitted during the same procedure. For over 35 years now, the specialist hospital for bone, joint and spinal surgery has been renowned around the world for performing this surgical method. Every year, between 400 and 500 patients from all over Germany and abroad are successfully treated using the procedure.
The specialists at the ENDO Hospital are also proficient in implanting artificial joints for the first time, of course, and they perform the highest number of these operations in Germany.
Unfortunately, however, the treatment of periprosthetic infections using the singlestage replacement method is still the exception rather than the rule worldwide. It requires not only highly specialised logistics but also close cooperation between orthopaedic surgeons, microbiologists, hygienists, internalists, anaesthetists and other medical experts.
Because of the particular expertise required for dealing with infected artificial joints and their replacement, there are only a handful of specialists and hospitals around the world with sufficient experience to carry out this specialised operation. In addition to the ENDO Hospital in Hamburg, Germany, this includes the world-renowned orthopaedic infections department at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester in the United States. The ENDO Hospital is working in partnership with the Mayo Clinic to plan a comprehensive clinical trial involving more than one hundred patients. By recording parameters such as the frequency of a new infection, the lifespan of a prosthesis after infection, the identified bacterium and the degree of mobility, it will be possible to draw up an individual scheme of treatment for patients.
But it’s not just in the treatment of prosthetic infections that the ENDO Hospital is a global leader. It is also a pioneer and the biggest institution of its kind in the world for endoprosthetic surgery, performing nearly 5,600 of these operations a year. Since the ENDO Hospital was founded in 1976 its doctors have implanted 125,000 joint replacements in patients’ hips, knees, shoulders, spines and feet.
The global reputation of Professor Gehrke and his specialist team has led to him being regularly invited to speak and to perform surgery live at international conferences and medical symposiums. He is regarded as an expert in performing the most difficult operations. His patients travel to Hamburg from all corners of the globe, but most come from western Europe, Russia and other eastern European countries as well as the Middle East. Every year, around 350 doctors from around the world visit the ENDO Hospital to learn how to carry out these treatment methods for themselves.
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