06/04/2015 09:14 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh - An Outstanding Spine Researcher and Surgeon

After almost 40 years doing spine research and surgery,  Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh has been consistent in his principles,  “A doctor must be both talented and virtuous. To become a doctor is not difficult, but to win the patients’ respect and love is truly a challenge.”
Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh was born in 1949 in An Binh Commune, Cai Rang District of southern Can Tho Province, but he spent most of his time living and studying in Long Hoa Commune, Hoa Thanh District of Tay Ninh Province.

In 1967, he was ranked fourth among 160 high school French-speaking students enrolled in the Saigon University of Medicine. He then won a Colombo scholarship to Australia to study for a bachelor degree in electricity, but he decided to stay home and focused on learning medicine. After the country was reunified in 1975, he  worked for the Binh Dan Hospital, at its Orthopedics Faculty,  in Ho Chi Minh City.

In 1983, while many of his classmates went abroad to find jobs, Thanh stayed home and concentrated on spine research. In 1987, he graduated from Specialised Grade 1 and participated in the first surgery on Siamese twins in Vietnam. Working with Prof. Tran Dong A and Dr. Tran Thanh Trai, he was in charge of separating the twin’s spinal column.

In 1991, he went to Paris to work at Nice Acropolis University of Medicine where he attended an one-year professional improvement course in 1988 and Saint Roch Hospital’s Orthopedics Faculty as Chef de Clinique Associe, a position certified by the French Health Minister. In the years of 1995 and 1996, he graduated from the Specialised Grade II and defended successfully his doctoral thesis on the spine.

Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh – Vietnam’s outstanding spine surgeon. Photo: Nguyen Luan/VNP

Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh exchanges opinions with Prof. David Segal from Israel
on the result of a patient after spinal surgery.  Photo: Nguyen Luan/VNP

Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh and Prof. David Segal view a radiograph of a spinal fracture case
and discuss the methods of surgery on the patient. Photo: Nguyen Luan/VNP

Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh (wearing glasses) and his surgery team of Chi Minh City Trauma Orthopedic Hospital
perform a spinal surgery on a patient.  Photo: Nguyen Luan/VNP

A replica of the spine and screws used in the spinal surgery method
initiated by Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh. Photo: Nguyen Luan/VNP

In 2004, Prof. Thanh initiated the spinal surgery method on transversal direction which is convenient for surgeons, reduces the anaesthetic time for the patient, and achieves good results.

His initiative to place the screw transversally has become an official practice which allows the doctors to monitor both the front and back areas. This unique method has been highly praised by international experts and considered a “breakthrough” of Vietnam in this area.

In 2003, Thanh thought out a new live orthopedic method, called VVT (three first letters of his full name Vo Van Thanh) as well as surgery of the whole live tumor of the sacrum bone.

Associate Prof. Thanh has devoted his great effort in training a contingent of young doctors on spinal  surgery working at hospitals in capital Hanoi, northern Hai Phong City, central Hue and Da Nang cities and Khanh Hoa Province, and southern Can Tho and Tay Ninh provinces.
Over the past 20 years, he has supported more than 20 Vietnamese post-graduates to go to countries with advanced medicine including France, the United States, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Singapore, for improvement of spinal surgery skills. Back home, those doctors have contributed greatly to the country’s medicine.

Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh is founder of the Asia-Pacific Cervical Spine Research Society (CSRS AP) and the Asia-Pacific Cervical Spine Society (AP CSS). In particular, in 2007, he established relationship between the Vietnam Orthopedic Society and the Academy of American Orthopaedic Surgeons, which joined in setting up a training program for doctors nationwide on the theory-clinic coordination for spinal defects, surgery of joint replacement, and joint endoscopy surgery. The program has lasted for six years, from 2009 to 2014.

He has compiled more than 40 research reports on spinal column which were delivered in many countries in Southeast Asia, the Asia-Pacific region, North and South America, and Europe, and highly appreciated by foreign experts.


Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh presents his science report at
the 19th Ho Chi Minh City’s Spine Association. Photo: Nguyen Luan/VNP

 Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh and international professors and doctors participate in
the 1st International Conference on the Spine in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: File

Associate Prof. Vo Van Thanh and his colleagues. Photo: Nguyen Luan/VNP

Currently, at his old age, Merited Doctor, Associate Prof. Thanh is still assigned with important positions, including advisor to the Asia-Pacific Orthopaedic Associations (APOA) and the Asia-Pacific Spine Society (APSS), President of Ho Chi Minh City’s Spine Association, Honorable President of the Vietnam Orthopaedic Association, and Chief of Ho Chi Minh City Orthopedic Hospital’s Spine Faculty A.

He is also a virtuous man who wins respect and love from his patients. He has assisted many poor and needy patients. From 1996 to 2011, with assistance from the Ho Chi Minh City Association for Support of Poor Patients and the American Butterfly Foundation, he conducted high-tech surgeries for more than 100 children having serious spinal deformities, with most of cases enjoying free treatment.
Story: Do Van - Photos: Nguyen Luan & Files