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Voice of Industry

AAOS President Forecasts Orthopaedic Technology Advancements

Gerald R. Williams Jr., M.D.
AAOS President

As we prepare for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Annual Meeting, we asked AAOS President Gerald R. Williams Jr., M.D., to offer perspective on prominent areas for technology advancements in the coming years.

Dr. Williams is a shoulder specialist at the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia who also serves as the John M. Fenlin, Jr., M.D., Professor of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery at The Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.

His five-year outlook aligns with hot topics of recent years. Of note, these topics, such as robotics and stem cells, will be featured during the Annual Meeting's session featuring game-changing orthopaedists.


Annual Meeting Highlights

What topics has the Academy
prioritized for the 2017 Annual Meeting?

These four sessions—each two hours—
will be featured as new and hot topics.
They provide insight into what is
top-of-mind for today's surgeons.


  1. Mimickers of Hand and Upper Extremity Infections – How to Avoid Misdiagnosis and Mistreatment

  2. Patient Satisfaction Scores and Online Reputation Management

  3. It’s All About the Timing…When Do I Take This to the Operating Room? (Regarding fractures)

  4. What Keeps a Spine Surgeon Up at Night?


ORTHOKNOW: Where will the greatest change come in orthopaedics,
in the next five years?

Williams: We will continue to see the creation of new tools, implants and techniques derived from advances in additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, as well as the ongoing integration of computers and robotic systems into surgical practice.

These advances have the potential to significantly improve patient care through the creation of precision surgical tools: implants, from large joints to custom pins for fingers and toes; and customized, synthetic bone material and scaffolds. No skeleton is exactly the same; customizing orthopaedics will lead to more precise treatment strategies, and ultimately improved long-term mobility and patient satisfaction.

I also expect to see new research and discoveries using biologics—most notably, stem cells—to regenerate or repair damaged bone and cartilage. While there is much we still have to learn about the regenerative powers of biologics, they have tremendous potential to improve patient outcomes and function, and to delay or avoid surgery.

Finally, there will be continued discourse regarding the challenges associated with the regulation of rapidly- developing products and integration of patient-specific risk-benefit assessments into both regulation and treatment plans.