RICHLAND, Wash.- More than 100 international doctors from 31 different countries are gathering in Richland this week for the Annual SIGN Conference to share ideas and help care for the poor worldwide.
The SIGN organization helps surgeons in developing countries to treat people with severe bone fractures.
Longtime SIGN Board Member Dr. John Staeheli said, "surgeons in the third world now have a tool, an implant, a device to offer to help people that's provided free and they also get some education along the way."
The doctors are able to learn and join SIGN's method at no cost, to take back to their country and to provide the implant at no cost to the patient.
Dr. Jacky Jean from Haiti is no stranger to the SIGN Fracture group. He said, "We didn't have anything to fix the bone if a patient came to us with a broken femur in my country. The patient would have to stay in traction for a long time, which could be months.>
Dr. Isidor Ngayomela from Tanzania also uses the SIGN technique. He said, "Once you operate with a SIGN nail. It gives you a chance to let the patient go the next day in most cases."
Founder Dr. Lewis Zirkle uses the conference to discuss and practice the surgical technique.
Zirkle says the implant's success is in part to surgeons passing along the program and to train other surgeons.
"When you come to the conference you lend the new issues that will come up around SIGN so that you improve your technique," said Ngayomela.
SIGN Fracture Care International is able to provide the instruments and training solely on donations.
SIGN technique is currently being used in 55 countries as well as orthopaedic treatments for neck fractures, treatment of tumors, spine trauma, elbow and pelvic injuries.