Participants in the course on pelvic and acetabular fractures sponsored by AAOS and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association on May 4 – 6, 2007, watch a live demonstration on the OLC’s large, high-definition screen.


Published 6/1/2007
Jennie McKee

OLC undergoes “stunning” $1.2 million upgrade

New technology keeps the OLC on the cutting edge

Since it opened in 1994, the Orthopaedic Learning Center (OLC) in Rosemont, Ill., has been a preeminent facility for hands-on learning of orthopaedic surgical skills. And now, it’s even better.

This 5,600-square-foot, custom-designed bioskills laboratory, which features 24 workstations equipped for use with cadaveric specimens and anatomic models, was recently upgraded with $1.2 million worth of digital, high-definition equipment. A staff team from the OLC, the AAOS, and the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA)—the two organizations that founded the OLC—implemented the total audiovisual (AV) upgrade between December 2006 and February 2007.

HD viewing on a 20-foot-wide screen
One of the most prominent upgrades is immediately visible upon entering the lab: a new, ceiling-high screen (15’ high × 20’ wide) that replaced two smaller screens at the front of the lab. Course chairs and faculty members use this screen to show live demonstrations of surgical techniques or video footage from DVDs before participants practice the surgical skills. A high-definition projector transmits video onto the huge screen, creating images that have nearly three times the resolution of the previous technology.

“The resolution of the new screen at the front of the lab is stunning; it’s better than going to the movies,” says Howard Mevis, the Academy’s director of electronic media, evaluation programs, course operations, and practice management.

Upgraded cameras and arthroscopy equipment
The cameras at the demo station, as well as the new arthroscopic cameras at each of the workstations, are now able to capture HD images. These new cameras enable AV staff to record and edit high-quality video of faculty members’ demonstrations, which may then be burned on DVDs for participants to take home. Organizations such as AANA and AAOS can also post some of these videos on their Web sites.

Flat-screen, HD monitors
The workstations, which are equipped with water, compressed air, vacuum, and electronic hookups as well as audio-visual feeds, now have HD, flat-screen monitors instead of analog monitors. This upgrade allows participants to watch a high-resolution image at their workstations as faculty members give live demonstrations throughout the courses. The new monitors show clean, crisp images, which is particularly important in arthroscopy courses.

Participants and faculty are “wowed” by upgrades
Orthopaedic surgeon Peter C. Janes, MD, recently participated in an arthroscopic course at the OLC. Dr. Janes, who has taken many courses at the OLC, found the lab’s new technology to be extremely beneficial.

Participants in the course on pelvic and acetabular fractures sponsored by AAOS and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association on May 4 – 6, 2007, watch a live demonstration on the OLC’s large, high-definition screen.
Surgeons at the Academy’s course on managing complicated hand and wrist problems, held May 11 – 12, 2007, use the OLC’s new arthroscopy equipment and their workstation’s high-definition monitor to learn and practice surgical skills.

“This was the best visualization I’ve ever had at an arthroscopic course,” says Dr. Janes. The quality of the images was so good that at first Dr. Janes and the other surgeons at his workstation didn’t realize it was due to the lab’s new technology—they just thought they had an unusual specimen.

Douglas P. Hanel, MD, one of the course’s faculty members, was equally impressed by the lab’s recent upgrades.

“The new technology makes a difference—not so much for surgeons who know these procedures, but for those who are coming to learn new techniques. There is a definite improvement in the quality of the OLC’s new equipment—especially with the arthroscopes,” says Dr. Hanel. The new technology keeps the OLC current with modern operating rooms.

Staying ahead of the curve
“Surgeons want to learn the latest, greatest thing, so the OLC needs to have the latest, greatest equipment,” says Stephen S. Burkhart, MD, president of the OLC board of directors. “The upgrades to the OLC have been major; it’s now state-of-the-art.”

Dr. Burkhart, who has been involved in arthroscopy education for nearly 20 years, points to the variety of equipment available to participants as another positive aspect of attending courses at the OLC.

“Arthroscopic instrumentation has greatly improved in the last five years or so,” he says. “One of the great things about the OLC is that all the companies that make those instruments are represented at the OLC. Those companies’ representatives are available during the courses to assist participants if they have questions about the equipment.”

According to Pat Cichlar, RN, OLC director, the facility offers surgeons a learning experience that is as unique as it is beneficial.

“I don’t know of any other lab that has the same kind of live demo studio and high-definition technology,” she says. “There are a multitude of other labs out there, but none can compare to the OLC.”

For more information on the OLC, contact Pat Cichlar, RN, director, at (847) 384-4210 or