St Helena has recently welcomed to the Health Directorate, Resident Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr Sergio Villatoro (see photo attached). Dr Sergio is no stranger to the Island, having been here twice previously to carry out orthopaedic surgeries. His last visits to the Island were in 2015 when he performed a total of 572 consultations (139 infiltrations, 66 Surgeries, 21Emergencies).

This is the first time that a resident Orthopaedic Surgeon has been appointed for St Helena, but with the rising number of orthopaedic related cases on the Island it was necessary to introduce a resident post as opposed to an annual visit.

As an Orthopaedic Surgeon and also a Joint Surgeon, Dr Sergio, is responsible for preventive, therapeutic and rehabilitative aspects which affect the musculoskeletal system in any age group of patients – both traumatic injuries and congenital injuries or acquired non-traumatic injuries.

Dr Sergio is on trauma call 24/7, sees around 16 patients daily, and performs up to four surgeries a week, but there is still a long waiting list for surgeries.


Dr Sergio said:

“It’s very important to have an Orthopaedic Surgeon on St Helena as I am able to treat patients now rather than have them wait a long time to be sent to South Africa for necessary procedures.”

The most common surgery performed on St Helena is Arthroscopic Surgery – used to treat joint problems and which allow a faster recovery for patients with lower risks of a surgical intervention. The most common pathology found was Knee Osteoarthrosis (OA) in men and women.

Dr Sergio explains:

“Osteoarthrosis is a chronic and degenerative disease, characterised by gradual loss of the joint cartilage. It is one of the most common joint disorders, and it is the most common cause of pain and disability in adults, and the first cause of joint replacement surgeries.”

Other pathologies common on the Island are knee meniscus tear, sub-acromial impingement, shoulder pain and lower back pain. The age of patients with OA ranges from 46-84 years. The prevalence of obesity is high for the population and patients with OA should maintain a healthy weight range, as being overweight accelerates the process of the disease.

Dr Sergio is hoping to soon start performing Viscosupplementationan injection of Hyaluronic acid in the joint – which in many cases delays the need for joint replacements.

With the redevelopment of the Hospital the facilities for orthopaedic surgery have also improved and there is now a complete orthopaedic theatre table with all the accessories for patients needing this type of surgery. Surgeries are easier and fewer patients will need to be sent to South Africa. In the future Dr Sergio will also be able to carry out knee and hip replacements on the Island.

Dr Sergio comes from Guatemala where he studied medicine and did his residency in trauma. He completed his fellowship in joint surgery and sport trauma in Florida, United States.

Dr Sergio has settled into Island life and has added a touch of St Helena history to his office with a selection of beautifully framed old photos of the Island.

He concluded:

“It is a great opportunity for me to be able to provide and keep providing this service to the population of St Helena. I have been able to restore the quality of life for some patients and I am honoured to be able to get to know the Island more and the hospitality of its people, while sharing my experience with the hospital staff.”


30 August 2016  




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