AO Annual Report 2018

AO Spine 2018—year in review

29 May 2019

AO Annual Report 2018 AOSpine

The AO's Annual Report for 2018 has been published, looking at the challenges and achievements of 2018 through the prism of four separate chapters: patient outcomes, innovation, education, and corporate social responsibility.

Inspired by the rigor of the approach taken by the AO's founders 60 years ago, AO Spine in 2018 launched a major reappraisal of its global activities and research, led by its new Chairperson Shanmuganathan Rajasekaran. It involves an assessment of what works and what can be improved or modified in order to deliver better results. By questioning underlying assumptions, AO Spine will ensure it is better able to meet health care professionals' needs.

Retaining a leadership position

For AO Spine to retain its leading position as an innovative educator in its field, it is imperative to provide the community with courses tailored to their changing needs. The recently launched diploma project, which involves creating curricula for lifelong learning, aims to meet these needs. 

In 2018, AO Spine expanded its use of webinars and e-learning to provide knowledge and adapted its face-to-face courses to more clearly focus on skills. This combination allows for an optimum learning experience for participants, ensuring everyone who attends the face-to-face courses has first had the opportunity to develop their theoretical knowledge, before they expand their skills. Feedback shows that this has been a success.

In total, AO Spine held 213 educational events, involving 11,053 participants, 2,516 faculty days and 1,644 faculty in 2018.

Reaching out into the community

In-hospital education is another element of AO Spine's updated approach. Going out into the community, providing outstanding and innovative education in the workplace, enables increased attendance rates and offers the AO greater, more nuanced insights into environmental factors that impact decisions around the approach to treatment. This is something that AO Spine is proud to have rolled out to all regions in 2018—a process in which the AO Spine centers globally are integral.

The development and roll-out of the Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) courses during the AO Davos Courses 2018 were key achievements for AO Spine. The initial offering of 24 spaces per course had to be expanded to 36 in response to overwhelming demand. A needs assessment carried out in 2017 showed that MISS hit the sweet spot for the AO Spine community, surgeons in this field, and our industry partner DePuy Synthes, a Johnson & Johnson company. MISS will continue in 2019 and AO Spine is set to expand it by adding new tools and techniques, and by taking it to the regions.

This year also saw the launch of the AO Spine Discovery and Innovation Awards.

Patient-reported outcomes to deliver better care

In 2018, AO Spine continued its work through the AO Spine Knowledge Forums to improve patient outcomes. One key advancement was the development and validation of a patient- reported outcome tool, namely the Spine Oncology Study Group Outcomes Questionnaire (SOSGOQ2.0), in the treatment of spine cancer. This health-related quality of life tool will have meaningful impact for the well-being of spine cancer patients because it aims not only to evaluate their quality of life but to improve it.

New clinical tools and resources available for spine surgeons in 2018:

  • AO Spine Injury Classification system (Upper Cervical, Subaxial, Thoracolumbar, and Sacral)
  • AO Spine Masters Series—the complete 10 volume book series 

AO Spine encourages clinicians to use and build the SOSGOQ2.0 into their practices as a way of evaluating which patients improve and which do not. It will enable greater clarity over key questions in treatment and recovery such as the definition of “meaningful change” from the patient perspective and enhance the ability to predict patient outcomes.

The SOSGOQ2.0 is available in English and is currently being validated in Dutch and Hungarian. It has been translated into German, and there is interest in translating it into Russian, Thai, and Turkish. It has also been integrated in OBERD, a company with which the AO has partnered and which is supporting patient-reported outcomes data collection system in orthopedics.
AOSpine's goal is to see this become the standard patient-reported outcome measure for spine cancer patients to ultimately improve their quality of life. AO Spine knows that all of its efforts to innovate in education and deliver outstanding research, treatment guidelines, and new measurement tools work together to benefit patient outcomes.

Published in 2017, the AO Spine-developed clinical practice guidelines for acute spinal cord injury and degenerative cervical myelopathy were presented and launched at the 2018 Global Spine Congress. These guidelines ensure appropriate management and define treatment strategies to help clinicians improve patient outcomes by making evidence-informed decisions. The year 2018 also saw this initiative backed by SCIRE, and further interest expressed by the World Federation of Neurological Societies (WFNS) and the Rick Hansen Institute (RHI).

The AO Spine Patient and Clinician Reported Spine Trauma Outcome Measures (AOPROST and AOCROST) currently under development aim to create and validate a multidisciplinary, universally applicable, outcome tool for spinal trauma patients that brings together the perspectives of both patients and health care professionals. This is much-needed recognition of the increasingly central decision-making role patients play in treatment, as the relationship patients expect with their health care providers today is very different from that seen five, ten, or 60 years ago.

Find out more


Find out more about AO Spine and other areas of the AO's activities in 2018 in the annual report:

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