This past summer, I was given the opportunity to have a virtual internship at Newton Wellesley Orthopedic Associates with Dr. Benjamin Snyder. Dr. Snyder, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in total hip replacements and hip joint preservation, was kind enough to lend some of his time for me to learn all about the hip joint. Again, I am extremely thankful for the amazing experience that Dr. Snyder has given me this past summer.
To start the summer, Dr. Snyder had me research and learn about the anatomical structure of the hip. Before this internship, I had little knowledge of the hip joint so it was critical for me to familiarize myself with the topic at hand before diving deeper. In our first virtual meeting, Dr. Snyder and I walked through the different structures of the hip, and what the different functions of the parts of the hip joint were. At the end of the meeting, I was ready to dive into the first major topic—hip preservation. Since Dr. Snyder specializes in the topic of hip preservation, I was given an incredible opportunity to further my orthopedic knowledge with an expert in the field. Throughout my internship, Dr. Snyder would give me a broad topic to research and learn about over a few weeks. At the end of my research period, Dr. Snyder and I would have a virtual call to discuss my findings and for him to elaborate on his experiences and topics that I had found confusing throughout my research.
Through my research and discussion with Dr. Snyder about hip preservation, I learned that a normal hip replacement isn’t permanent—it will last around 15 years. Hip preservation has a goal of removing as little bone as possible to allow for a more active lifestyle and a future hip replacement if necessary.
The next major topic that Dr. Snyder gave me to research is called the Birmingham Hip—an example of hip resurfacing or hip preservation. Dr. Snyder has a vast knowledge of this resurfacing method as he worked with the creator of the method in Birmingham, England and he was one of the first orthopedic surgeons to bring the practice to the United States. The goal of it was to create a hip resurfacing method for younger, active male patients. The Birmingham Hip conserves bone while creating a new femoral head and acetabular component out of chromium metal. Unfortunately, this method of hip resurfacing is rarely performed in the present-day United States due to the low success rate(around 90%).
Dr. Snyder also gave me incredible insight into the world of getting new procedures approved by the FDA. He kindly explained the long and painful process of getting through the approval phase and then explained to me why it would be impractical to try and fix the current issues with the Birmingham Hip, which is the time it would take to get a new approval. He explained that even if only the kind of metal was changed in the implant, it would still need to go through the approval process. He further explained that in the time it would take to get approved by the FDA, there would already be new and better practices in place in the orthopedic world.
Finally, Dr. Snyder and I are still in the process of discussing different surgical approaches to gaining access to the hip joint. He emphasized that a major goal in the surgery is preserving as much tissue on the hip as possible. He explained to me that there are many ways to access the hip joint, but some methods preserve tissue better, like the anterior approach.
My time with Dr. Snyder has been eye-opening into the field of orthopedics. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to him for giving up his valuable time to teach me all about the hip joint. Dr. Snyder’s unique and vast expertise furthered my interest and understanding of the orthopedic field and it pushed me in the direction of thinking about a potential future career in orthopedics. I would also like to thank Mr. Schlenker for allowing me the opportunity to have such an amazing and rewarding summer experience. I look forward to continuing my knowledge of orthopedics, and more specifically the hip joint, in the future.