Professor Greg Bain and Associate Professor John Costi are leading the way when it comes to implants and the surgeries that come with them.
Their lab is a bright, open space overlooking the former Mitsubishi factory at Tonsley, with a panoramic view of the city and Adelaide hills. Trays of metal instruments (chisels, mallets, forceps, nibblers and pliers that were designed 50 years ago and remain the basic tools of surgery) sit alongside advanced imaging, arthroscopy, surgery and engineering equipment. Operating tables are pushed up against the walls, but it’s easy to imagine 30 focused surgeons taking up the space and learning alongside each other. It is clear why implant companies are flocking to the facility, asking Greg and John to help train surgeons in their newest technologies and surgical procedures. The modern facility would be the envy of any company and Greg and John are both leaders in their fields. The advanced courses they facilitate give practical, hands-on skills to surgeons. With access to Flinders’ groundbreaking Hexapod Robot, surgeons see firsthand the effect of their surgical techniques on the stability of the bone or joint. The data and knowledge that can be gathered in just a matter of hours is incredible, and the vision for the facility as a combination of surgical skills training with biomechanical testing will be an Australian first.
Step through into the adjoining room and you’re likely to stumble across an international, visiting surgeon or a PhD student working to understand the biomechanics of a new implant or surgical technique. For John and Greg, their ideas for new techniques and surgeries in the upper limb come from Greg’s first-hand experience with patients. If someone presents with a complex problem where the usual solutions don’t work, he brings his thoughts to John and together they develop new ways of doing things—with Greg bringing the surgical know-how and John testing their ideas on his biomedical engineering equipment. John will say ‘Actually that’s not realistic and we need to be focused’ or ‘These are the outcomes that I can deliver,’ and together they figure out which ideas have potential.