Program Director, Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program
Plastic Surgeon, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Repairing Large Traumatic Fractures: Using Silk-Based Orthopedic Implants to Promote Healing
Current material options for orthopedic implants consist of nondegradable metals and degradable polymers. Metal alloys have long been the gold standard for large traumatic defect repair due to their robust mechanical properties and ease of implantation. However, the strength of the metal-based implants relative to the strength of the surrounding bone result in stress shielding—and the reduced microstrain experienced by bone, which is critical to the healing process, lead to poor bone healing, and, in some cases, the need for additional surgery. Dyer’s project focuses on a new way to accelerate bone healing using fully degradable, silk-based surgical repair rods and bioactive molecules. The hope is that this surgical approach will ultimately replace metal alloys, the current standard for large traumatic defect repair, with degradable devices, thus minimizing the need for second surgeries and transforming outcomes for patients with all types of orthopedic injuries.
George Dyer, MD, is a staff surgeon in the BWH Department of Orthopedic Surgery and an assistant professor of surgery at HMS. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and attended HMS following seven years of active duty service in the United States Air Force. Dyer completed his surgical training in the Harvard Combined Orthopedic Residency Program, followed by an additional year of fellowship in hand and upper extremity surgery at BWH, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2008, Dyer joined the staff at BWH, where he specializes in the management of complex injury to the upper extremity. Formerly the chief of upper extremity surgery at the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Boston, he now serves as program director of the orthopedic residency program at HMS.
Using Silk Rods to Promote Bone Healing: A Conversation with George Dyer