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Orthopaedic Research

geisinger orthopaedic research team

The Geisinger Orthopaedic Institute Research Team

The scientist/clinician partnership at the Geisinger Orthopaedic Institute facilitates research in discovering the best applications of, improvements to, and innovations for the latest orthopaedic technologies in development. The basic research and clinical trials aim to develop the best implants, finest biomaterials and cutting-edge pharmaceuticals for musculoskeletal patient care.

“We are a dynamic orthopedic translational research center,” says Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH, FACS, chairman, department of orthopaedic surgery at Geisinger Health System. “Our affiliation with various groups prove that Geisinger is a major contributor to orthopaedic research.”

The most impressive research initiatives of 2012 include:

AOCSC Platinum Certification
In April 2012, the Geisinger Orthopaedic Institute was the second site in the United States to receive the certificate indicating that it is now an Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (AO) Clinical Study Center (AOCSC) site, and was awarded the Platinum status, the highest level of certification offered.

“This certification will reflect our quality standards and abilities to participate in and manage clinical studies (not only with the AO but with industry as well),” says Dr. Suk. “AO Centers will be the destination of choice for implant testing, comparative research projects and innovations in biologic materials. It promises to open an important pipeline to sponsored research.”

METRC Satellite Clinic Selection
The Geisinger Orthopaedic Institute was approved as a Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium (METRC) Satellite Clinical Site in July 2012, and hopes to soon be participating in two METRC clinical studies: the Antibacterial Plate Sleeves (APS) Study and the OUTLET study.

METRC was established in September of 2009 with funding from the Department of Defense (DOD). It consists of a network of clinical centers and one data-coordinating center that works together with the DOD to conduct multicenter clinical research studies relevant to the treatment and outcomes of orthopaedic trauma sustained in the military. The overall goal of the consortium is to produce the evidence needed to establish treatment guidelines for the optimal care and outcomes of service members and civilians who sustain high-energy trauma to the extremities.

Function and Outcomes Research for Comparative Effectiveness in Total Joint Replacement (FORCE-TJR) Project
“Each year, more than 700,000 adults in the United States elect Total Knee Replacement (TKR) or Total Hip Replacement (THR) surgery to restore physical function and eliminate the persistent pain of advanced knee or hip arthritis,” says Dr. Suk. “By 2030 primary and revision TKR and THR use is projected to grow significantly, especially among patients under 65 years of age.”

Presently there is wide variation in TKR and THR implant selection, surgical approach, post-surgery functional improvement and implant revision rates. The majority of existing research is retrospective and limited to the Medicare population.

The FORCE-TJR project focuses on working adultsunder 65 years of age. Its goals are to:

  • Guide decisions on optimal implant timing, surgical approach, implant selection and perioperative management,
  • Decrease complications and to improve implant longevity and function following surgery, and
  • Inform policy to reach currently underserved minority populations.

By the end of 2012, Geisinger has enrolled 690 patients for this project.

Geisinger Poised to Conduct Musculoskeletal Outcomes Research
Through the 2010 Affordable Care Act, legislation established the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. It is anticipated that much of future research will be orthopaedic in nature, so it is important to be able to provide critical input on the clinical effectiveness and appropriateness of medical treatments and services. Dr. Suk is the lead author of one of the only textbooks of musculoskeletal outcomes, instruments and measures, positioning Geisinger to quickly establish a Center for Musculoskeletal Outcomes Research.

“We can harness the electronic medical record for epidemiologic data to help identify trends in musculoskeletal disease, track clinical outcomes and develop registries,” says Dr. Suk. “These are just a few obvious things that can be a critical component of our efforts to continually seek ways to improve and maximize Geisinger’s competitive edge.”

The following research efforts were funded in 2012:

  • Thomas Bowen, MD, orthopaedic oncology surgeon, has joined with Drs. Kennedy and Ebenstein, professors of Biomedical Engineering at Bucknell University, on a study entitled “Determination of Localized Bone Quality: Correlation of Bone-Screw Pullout and Bone Micro-Indentation to the Bone Mineral Density.” He is also the principal investigator on the Eli Lilly GHDQ study, a phase 3 multicenter, multinational study.
  • Matthew McElroy, DO, primary care sports medicine physician is undertaking a study entitled, “Ultrasonography Versus MRI in the Diagnosis of Tibial Stress Fractures.”
  • Daniel Horwitz, MD, chief orthopaedic trauma at Geisinger Medical Center, received funding for his study, “Vitamin D Deficiency and Low Energy Fractures in Adolescents.” He also serves as a principal investigator of “Lidocaine Analgesia for Removal of Would Vacuum Assisted Closure Dressings.”
  • The OMEGA Medical Grants Association offered a grant to support a Geisinger trauma skills lab for resident education.

For more information on research opportunities at Geisinger, email us at