Associate Professor Dr George Vicatos has been involved in designing and developing orthopaedic devices since 1992. However, his innovative design spirit has roots from long before.
George Vicatos was born in Athens, Greece, in 1955 to a medical doctor and a Greek Royal Navy officer. His mother’s laboratory and practice was at home. He was exposed to many patients who were mainly poor and destitute from WW2 and the civil war that had shattered Greece during the 1950’s. George pledged to become a doctor in order to stop the suffering. He devoted many hours browsing his mother’s anatomy books and enjoyed her explanations, using detailed diagrams of the processes in the human body.
Surgery on deceased frogs was the anticipated treat after a study of blood vessels, nerves and bones. George not only became knowledgeable about the body structures, but also became an enthusiastic designer of engineering devices. The latter opened a path for him to study mechanical engineering, rather than proceed with his intended medical education and career.
ATTRI Orthopaedics, a South African company registered in 2012, derived its name from the acronym of Advanced Tumour and Trauma Reconstruction Implants. it excels in the design of orthopaedic implants destined exclusively for people who have suffered loss of bone tissue due to surgery. The company is based in Cape Town and is linked with research institutes, manufacturing enterprises and specialist surgeons across the country.
ATTRI Orthopaedics makes customised orthopaedic implants. Modern extendable implants allow for non-invasive extension to maintain limb length in skeletally immature children after bone loss due to cancer, trauma or skeletal disease; but devices contain ferromagnetic materials which are incompatible with normal diagnostic imaging techniques, and require physician facilitated extensions.
ATTRI has designed a unique, extendable titanium implant which contains no ferromagnetic materials and is capable of precise extensions comparable to natural bone growth, while permitting future monitoring of soft tissues by MRI or CT scanning in the case of tumour recurrence. It is controlled by a light-weight external device which transmits power to a subcutaneous coil via inductive coupling.
The device hardware is ready, with prelim designs for the electronics – seed funding is sought to finalise electronics and software, and to build two functional implants ready for use by specialist surgeons.