Advanced Limb Reconstruction

Research Overview

Musculoskeletal disease, the second highest cause of disability globally, underpins research within the Department of Surgery at St. Vincent's. The Advanced Limb Reconstruction Research Programme (Director - Prof. Peter Choong) addresses a spectrum of conditions including degeneration, tumour, trauma and infection, and is divided into clinical (Arthritis Surgery, Musculoskeletal Oncology), tissue engineering (Catilage, Muscle, Nerve Regeneration), bioengineering (3D printing, Advanced biofabrication, Medical devices), and robotics (Neural Prosthetic Interface, Limb Bionics, Robotic Surgery) streams.Arthritis surgery research (Head - Dr. Michelle Dowsey) explores the outcomes after total joint replacement and how these relate to patient, surgical, prosthetic and engineering factors. With a rich and deep source of data in the St. Vincent's Melbourne Arthroplasty (SMART) registry, our research also informs health economic analyses that drives practice change. Musculoskeletal oncology research is driven by the St. Vincent's Musculoskeletal Oncology Research (STORM) Registry and studies outcomes after multimodal treatment. This work underpins the practice and policy of surgical care of patients with bone and soft tissue tumours. Tissue Engineering research focuses on rebuilding cartilage (Lead - Dr. Claudia Di Bella), muscle and nerve (Lead - Assoc. Prof. Robert Kapsa). Advanced Biofabrication research studies the design and development of novel metal (Lead Collaborator - Prof. Milan Brandt, RMIT) and biosynthetic (Lead Collaborator - Prof. Gordon Wallace, Wollongong) implants for reconstruction. Robotics research (Lead Collaborator - Dr. Denny Oetomo, Melbourne Engineering) aims to understand and develop strategies for creating bionic limbs, and Surgical Innovation (Lead - Prof. Peter Choong) explores the novel use of computer guidance, minimally invasive and robotic assistance to improve the accuracy, safety and efficacy of orthopaedic and tumour surgery.

This research is enabled by basic science platforms including mechanobiology (Lead - Assoc. Prof. Peter Pivonka), cell and molecular biology, stem cell biology and polymer science (Lead - Dr. Cathal O'Connor, Wollongong).


Prof Peter Choong, Head of Department of Surgery.

A/Prof Peter Pivonka, Senior Research Associate.

Dr. Michelle Dowsey, Senior Research  Associate, NHMRC Research Fellow

Dr. Claudia Di Bella, Senior Lecturer.

Dr Romane Blanchard, Independent Researcher

Dr. Timothy Spelman, Research Associate

Ms. Cheryl Augustine, Research Assistant

Dr. Serena Duchi, Research Fellow

Dr. Samantha Bunzli, Research Associate

Dr. Elizabeth Nelson, Research Associate

Dr. Carmine Onofrillo, Research Associate (Honorary)

Dr. Cathal O'Connell, Research Fellow (Uni. Wollongong)

Ms. Claire Weeden, Study Coordinator

Ms. Jane Keenan, Clinical Research Nurse

Mr. Ruth Guy, SMART Registry Coordinator

Ms. Angela Cochrane, Clinical Research Coordinator


Prof. Gordon Wallace. Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, University of Wollongong

Prof. Milan Brandt. Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, RMIT

Prof. Ma Qian. Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, RMIT

Prof. Davide Donati. Bone Regeneration Laboratory, Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute, Bologna

Dr. Enrico Lucarelli, Bone regeneration Laboratory, Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute, Bologna

A/Prof. Robert Kapsa, Neuroscience, Melbourne University

A/Prof. Denny Oetomo, Engineering, Melbourne University

Prof. Marcus Pandy, Engineering, Melbourne University

Prof. Stan Skafidis, Centre for Neural Engineering, Melbourne University

Prof. Paul Stoddart, Biomedical Engineering, Swinburne University of Technooogy

Prof. Simon Moulton, Biomedical Engineering, Swinburne University of Technology

Prof. Dietmar Hutmacher, Biomedicine, Queensland University of Technology

Dr. Stewart Ryan, Veterinary Science, Melbourne University

Prof. Philip Clark, School of Population Health Science, Melbourne University

Prof. Anthony Scott, Commerce, Melbourne University

Prof. Jane Gunn, General Practice, Melbourne University

Prof. Kim Bennell, Physiotherapy, Melbourne University

Prof. Rana Hinmann, Physiotherapy, Melbourne University

Prof. David Castles, Psychiatry, Melbourne University

A/Prof. Vijaya Sundararajan, Medicine,  Melbourne University

Dr. Mandana Nikpour, Medicine, Melbourne University

A/Prof. Michael Salzberg, Psychiatry, Melbourne University

Prof. David Hunter, Medicine, Sydney University

Prof. Peter O'Sullivan, Physiotherapy, Curtin University

Assoc. Prof. Anne Smith, Physiotherapy, Curtin University

Prof. Kay Crossley, Physiotherapy, Latrobe Univesity

Prof. Nicholas Taylor, Physiotherapy, Latrobe Univesity

Prof. Stefan Lohmander, Orthopaedics, Lund Univesity, Sweden

A/Prof. Peter Kent, Physiotherapy, University of Odense, Denmark

Dr. Kieren O'Sullivan, Physiotherapy, University of Limerick, Ireland

Prof. Jasvindar Singh, Medicine, University of Alabama

Prof. Michael Catton, Medicine, Cleveland Clinic

Prof. Wendy Brown, Centre for Obesity Research, Monash University

Prof. Paul O'Brien, CEntre for Obesity Research, Monash University

Prof. Danny Liew, Epidemiology, Monash University

Dr. Simon Knowles, Psychological Science, Swinburne University of Technology


NHMRC Project grants

NHMRC Development grant

ARC Discovery grants

ARC Linkage grants

ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterial Sciences

ARC Training Centre in Biodevices

ARC Training Centre in Additive Manufacturing

St. Vincent's Hospital Research Endowment Fund

St. Vincent's Foundation

Valma Angliss Foundation

Irene Phelps Charitable Trust

Australian Orthopaedic Research Foundation

Victorian Orthopaedic Research Trust

Royal Australasian College of Surgeons

University of Melbourne

Johnson & Johnson


Research Publications

  1. Imanishi J, Slavin J, Pianta M, Jackett L, Ngan SY, Tanaka T, Charoenlap C, DI Bella C, Choong PF. Tail of Superficial Myxofibrosarcoma and Undifferentiated Pleomorphic Sarcoma After Preoperative Radiotherapy. Anticancer Res. 2016
    May;36(5):2339-44. PubMed PMID: 27127141.
  2. Scarlato RM, Dowsey MM, Buising KL, Choong PF, Peel TN. What is the role of catheter antibiotic prophylaxis for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty? ANZ J Surg. 2016 Apr 20. doi: 10.1111/ans.13584. [Epub ahead of print]
    PubMed PMID: 27098849.
  3. Kirkinis MN, Spelman T, May D, Choong PF. Metastatic bone disease of the pelvis and extremities: rationalizing orthopaedic treatment. ANZ J Surg. 2016 Apr 18. doi: 10.1111/ans.13615. [Epub ahead of print]
    PubMed PMID: 27091575.
  4. Gandler N, Simmance N, Keenan J, Choong PF, Dowsey MM. A pilot study investigating dietetic weight loss interventions and 12 month functional outcomes of patients undergoing total joint replacement. Obes Res Clin Pract. 2016 Mar-Apr;10(2):220-3. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2016.03.006. Epub 2016 Apr 3.
    PubMed PMID: 27053573.
  5. Tanaka T, Imanishi J, Charoenlap C, Choong PF. Intramedullary nailing has sufficient durability for metastatic femoral fractures. World J Surg Oncol. 2016 Mar 10;14(1):80. doi: 10.1186/s12957-016-0836-2.
    PubMed PMID: 26966046; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4785732.
  6. Knowles SR, Nelson EA, Castle DJ, Salzberg MR, Choong PF, Dowsey MM. Using the common sense model of illness to examine interrelationships between symptom severity and health outcomes in end-stage osteoarthritis patients. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2016 Mar 8. pii: kew022. [Epub ahead of print]
    PubMed PMID: 26961745.
  7. Dowsey MM, Spelman T, Choong PF. Development of a Prognostic Nomogram for Predicting the Probability of Nonresponse to Total Knee Arthroplasty 1 Year After Surgery. J Arthroplasty. 2016 Feb 9. pii: S0883-5403(16)00121-2. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2016.02.003. [Epub ahead of print]
    PubMed PMID: 26935945.
  8. Charoenlap C, Imanishi J, Tanaka T, Slavin J, Ngan SY, Chander S, Dowsey MM, Goyal C, Choong PF. Outcomes of unplanned sarcoma excision: impact of residual disease. Cancer Med. 2016 Mar 1. doi: 10.1002/cam4.615. [Epub ahead of print]
    PubMed PMID: 26929181.
  9. Ye K, Traianedes K, Choong PF, Myers DE. Chondrogenesis of Human Infrapatellar Fat Pad Stem Cells on Acellular Dermal Matrix. Front Surg. 2016 Jan 26;3:3. doi: 10.3389/fsurg.2016.00003. eCollection 2016. PubMed PMID: 26858950;
    PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4726816.
  10. Imanishi J, Grinsell D, Choong PF. Bone-patellar tendon-bone allograft reconstruction for peri-patellar tendon sarcomas: case series. Springerplus. 2015 Nov 26;4:740. doi: 10.1186/s40064-015-1510-9. eCollection 2015.
    PubMed PMID: 26640752;
    PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4661164.
  11. Di Bella C, Fosang A, Donati DM, Wallace GG, Choong PF. 3D Bioprinting of Cartilage for Orthopedic Surgeons: Reading between the Lines. Front Surg. 2015 Aug 13;2:39. doi: 10.3389/fsurg.2015.00039. eCollection 2015. Review.
    PubMed PMID: 26322314;
    PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4534805.
  12. Broadhead ML, Lokmic Z, Tan ML, Stevenson A, Binns DS, Cullinane C, Hicks RJ, Choong PF, Myers DE. Applying Advanced Imaging Techniques to a Murine Model of Orthotopic Osteosarcoma. Front Surg. 2015 Aug 3;2:36. doi: 10.3389/fsurg.2015.00036. eCollection 2015.
    PubMed PMID: 26284252;
    PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4522961.
  13. Zhang BG, Quigley AF, Bourke JL, Nowell CJ, Myers DE, Choong PF, Kapsa RM.  Combination of agrin and laminin increase acetylcholine receptor clustering and enhance functional neuromuscular junction formation In vitro. Dev Neurobiol. 2016 May;76(5):551-65. doi: 10.1002/dneu.22331. Epub 2015 Aug 21.
    PubMed PMID: 26251299.
  14. Trieu J, Sinnathamby M, Di Bella C, Pianta M, Perera W, Slavin JL, Schlicht SM, Choong PF. Biopsy and the diagnostic evaluation of musculoskeletal tumours: critical but often missed in the 21st century. ANZ J Surg. 2016 Mar;86(3):133-8.  doi: 10.1111/ans.13251. Epub 2015 Aug 2. Review.
    PubMed PMID: 26235443.
  15. Anderson NJ, Dowsey MM, Choong PF. Effect of re-transfusion systems on physiotherapy participation and transfusion in total knee joint arthroplasty. ANZ J Surg. 2015 Jul 30. doi: 10.1111/ans.13259. [Epub ahead of print]
    PubMed PMID: 26223577.
  16. Dowsey MM, Smith AJ, Choong PF. Latent Class Growth Analysis predicts long term pain and function trajectories in total knee arthroplasty: a study of 689 patients. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2015 Dec;23(12):2141-9. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2015.07.005. Epub 2015 Jul 14.
    PubMed PMID: 26187575.
  17. Imanishi J, Choong PF. Three-dimensional printed calcaneal prosthesis following total calcanectomy. Int J Surg Case Rep. 2015;10:83-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijscr.2015.02.037. Epub 2015 Mar 10.
    PubMed PMID: 25827294;
    PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4429954.
  18. Tang MH, Castle DJ, Choong PF. Identifying the prevalence, trajectory, and determinants of psychological distress in extremity sarcoma. Sarcoma.  2015;2015:745163. doi: 10.1155/2015/745163. Epub 2015 Feb 12.
    PubMed PMID: 25767410;
    PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4342175.