Local spine surgeon shares techniques with other doctors around the globe
October 18, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Dr. Henry Fabian says Steamboat Springs residents who walk up and down Lincoln Avenue shouldn’t be surprised in the coming years if they stumble upon a group of German spinal surgeons.
If they do, that means his sales pitch has been successful.
Fabian hopes more and more doctors from across the world get the chance to share techniques and study with their international colleagues like he just did in August at the Hannover Medical Center in Germany.
Just as the Hannover Trauma Center — with its helipad that holds 13 helicopters and constant bustle — impresses Fabian, he sees Steamboat as a place that could have the same affect on other surgeons.
He concedes that some see skiing here as an equal draw to the surgeries.
"You think you’re going to give a lecture and teach something, but I always come away with more info and questions than answers," Fabian said about his recent trip.
While in Hannover, Fabian talked with several doctors about a new minimally invasive spinal implant he recently developed and about treating neck fractures sustained by skiers in Steamboat.
He then left the lecture hall to suit up for surgery.
Fabian, an orthopedic spine surgeon with Steamboat Orthopedics, said each of his international trips reinforce the notion that all surgeons have a common bond no matter where they practice.
He recalled a dinner in Berlin where he met a spinal surgeon from Tehran, Iran.
"This guy is in a suit. His wife is an OB-GYN. We were sitting there talking about cases and what we have technology-wise. He has access to everything he needs," Fabian said. "That’s not the image we normally get. It’s always an eye-opener to speak with international surgeons."
Fabian’s role as a doctor for the U.S. Ski Team also has helped him develop strong relationships with other doctors around the world.
That came in handy two years ago when he was on duty at a World Cup downhill race in Bormio, Italy.
At the race, he said an American and a Canadian racer suffered severe head trauma with intracranial bleeding after a crash.
Fabian and the other doctors were able to use their international connections to have the racers airlifted to a trauma center in Innsbruck, Austria, where a fellow resident of Fabian’s was the director.
"It helps to have friends in high places," Fabian said last week.
Back at home, he maintains a fast-paced lifestyle.
On Thursday, he was up at 4 a.m. to talk to FDA engineers in Washington, D.C., about the final round of testing on a new minimally invasive spine implant he developed.
He’ll fly from Steamboat Springs to California this week to continue the testing on the equipment surgeons will use to install it.
"This job has taken me all over the place," he said.