Dr J. N. De Vos – A Leading Orthopaedic Specialist in Pretoria

Feb 20, 2019 | Articles

Dr J. N. De Vos – A Leading Orthopaedic Specialist in Pretoria

The demand for the services of orthopaedic specialists has been increasing in recent years. This has been attributed both to a growth in the number of patients presenting with joint problems and continuing additions, and improvements to the range of orthopaedic treatments that are now available. While there remains some controversy regarding the explanation for increased joint disorders, there does appear to be a correlation with the increased incidence of obesity. Whatever the explanation, the average age of patients requiring hip and knee replacements by arthroplasty specialists, such as Dr J. N. De Vos, has definitely fallen significantly over the last decade or so.  

Total hip arthroplasty (THA) is widely regarded as the most successful orthopaedic intervention of all time. However, the history of surgical joint replacement extends for more than a century and was marked largely by successive failures until, in the early ‘60s, the British surgeon, Sir John Charnley, now considered the father of arthroplasty, abandoned the use of earlier metal-on-metal prostheses in favour of a low friction option based on the articulation between a metal femoral component and a polyethylene acetabular component. Since then, research conducted worldwide by leading orthopaedic surgeons like Dr J. N. De Vos has led to a series of improvements in the materials now used to manufacture prosthetic joints, as well as in the surgical techniques employed to fit them.

One of the main advances in joint replacement can be attributed to the invention of a diagnostic tool known as the arthroscope. The tubular device contains a fibre-optic cable which transmits light to illuminate the desired area and relays images of it to a video camera and thence to a monitor screen or eyepiece. When inserted into a joint, the instrument can provide an orthopaedic specialist with a real-time, close-up view of the interior of bones and the surrounding tissues. More significantly, in addition to being a powerful diagnostic aid, arthroscopy enables specialist surgeons like Dr J. N. De Vos to perform a wide range of orthopaedic procedures with no more than two or three small incisions.

He is recognised both at home and internationally for his skills in the field of arthroscopic surgery – particularly for his use of keyhole surgery for hip and knee replacements that would normally require exposing the entire joint with the use of conventional techniques. As a result, this orthopaedic specialist’s achievements have helped to establish the Life Wilgers Hospital in Pretoria as a centre of excellence and a preferred destination for arthroscopy and arthroplasty referrals from across South Africa, as well as from a number of overseas countries.

But, the work of Dr J. N. De Vos doesn’t stop at the bedside and in the operating theatre. When not fully occupied by his responsibilities to a mix of trauma and elective patients, he plays an active role both in the field of orthopaedic research and in the support of his profession and professional colleagues. His research has included the regulation of coagulation for the prevention of deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in orthopaedic surgery, and the effect of room temperature stable haemoglobin-based oxygen carriers on allogenic erythrocytes in arthroplasty patients not treated with erythropoietin.

During his career, Dr J. N. De Vos has authored and presented a dozen papers to international audiences and more than four times that figure to colleagues in South Africa. In addition, he has attended almost a hundred courses and conferences in his ongoing quest to extend his knowledge of his chosen discipline and to further enhance his surgical skills.

A founder of the South African National Joint Registry and a member of the South African Medical Association, Dr J. N. De Vos is also a member of six other societies associated with orthopaedics and arthroscopic procedures. These include the South African Orthopaedic Association in which he has served terms as treasurer, first and second vice president, and president.