When Prof. Dr med. Michael Hirschmann was appointed Head of the Knee Surgery and Sports Orthopaedics Team and Head of Orthopaedics and Traumatology at the Baselland Cantonal Hospital in 2013, word spread quickly in the Basel region: With this, a knee specialist with a high international reputation returned to the place where he had completed his orthopaedic training. Here he played a leading role in putting Basel firmly on the world map of orthopaedics – and gained a reputation in all matters relating to injuries and diseases of the knee that extends far beyond the region. Today, in a position of responsibility, he ensures that it remains that way.
The knee specialist's entry into the hospital network of the Cantonal Hospital Baselland already sent a clear signal: This meant that a specialist who was already renowned at the time could be recruited to lead the Department of Knee Surgery and Sports Orthopaedics into a future of innovative high-performance medicine – and who had become familiar with the advantages of the three-part institution during his three years as a resident at the KSBL. For the medical and nursing extended primary care provider in the region, it was also a stroke of luck that Prof. Dr med. Michael Hirschmann had also fallen in love with the university town on the Rhine along with its beautiful surroundings with numerous leisure activities.
In the meantime, the dedicated physician had continuously pushed ahead with his specialisation – with thoroughly sporting ambition. He had gained experience in several fellowships – in Germany, Italy and France, but also in Finland, Great Britain and Australia. Most recently, he was one of a few particularly promising young orthopaedic surgeons in Asia as part of an international exchange programme of the Asian Pacific Knee Arthroscopy Society (APKASS).
Renowned chief physician – highly specialised
Prof. Dr med. Michael Hirschmann was well aware that the Clinic for Orthopaedics and Traumatology of the Musculoskeletal System – as a medical focal point at the Cantonal Hospital Baselland – is one of the largest orthopaedic centres in the whole of Switzerland and thus enjoys a high status. He was also aware from his own experience of the importance of the network with the Liestal and Bruderholz sites and the Laufen Outpatient Centre in the entire region between Germany and France. His claim: Especially at the Bruderholz site, where complete acute medical care with intensive care, rehabilitation and professional nursing is offered under one roof, patients are to be offered the entire spectrum of orthopaedics and traumatology at the highest level on a permanent basis.
Prof. Dr med. Michael Hirschmann impressed with his enormous expertise right from the start – and was appointed professor by the University of Basel in 2018 due to his outstanding achievements and abilities. Incidentally, he already had a teaching licence when he entered Basel. In 2019, he took over the Orthopaedics Clinic of the Baselland Cantonal Hospital as Head and interim Chief Physician ad interim – and in 2021 he made a name for himself with a particularly innovative "job pairing" model: Together with PD Dr Andrej Nowakowski, Prof. Dr med. Michael Hirschmann was elected head physician of the Clinic for Orthopaedics and Traumatology of the Musculoskeletal System. The two team-oriented specialists thus share the position of chief physician and management duties.
Early focus: Knee surgery and sports traumatology
Prof. Hirschmann was fascinated by the knee from an early age. As a comprehensively trained and experienced orthopaedic surgeon, he focused clinically and scientifically on a single joint – like a decathlete who achieves amazing feats in all disciplines, but who is nevertheless one of the absolute favourites in one special discipline. In fact, Prof. Hirschmann ran decathlon in his younger years: So he knows exactly how to focus on one area without losing sight of the other areas – and he knows the importance of our knee joint for mobility.
As the largest joint in the body, the knee plays a decisive role in locomotion in particular. With its bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments, it is one of the most complex joints of all, and many muscles and ligaments also meet here. So it is good to be able to rely on an experienced specialist who is familiar with all injuries and degenerative damage down to the smallest detail. Whether it is a matter of sports accidents, arthrosis or incorrect stresses caused by leg malpositions – Prof. Hirschmann already has a high reputation in diagnostics.
The wide range of services in knee surgery includes innovative arthroscopic procedures in which Prof. Hirschmann uses a probe equipped with a tiny camera to see inside the joint. In many minimally invasive operations, diagnostics are directly transferred to therapy – in a single operation.
Cruciate ligament and cartilage: minimally invasive surgery and orthobiology
Prof. Hirschmann also uses modern methods of so-called keyhole surgery for other procedures – for example, meniscus suturing or partial removal of the meniscus. And in the case of cartilage damage, which is particularly common and often affects bones as well, the specialist in Basel is regarded as an outstanding expert in the latest orthobiological-regenerative procedures such as cartilage cell transplantation. In other forward-looking biomedical procedures, wear-related joint complaints in particular are treated with the patient's own stem cells – in other words, the patient's own body strength is used to treat illnesses and injuries in a particularly gentle way. Orthobiological methods are also used in Basel for muscle and tendon injuries.
When it comes to the cruciate ligament, Prof. Dr med. Michael Hirschmann’s expertise is also at university level – from reconstruction of the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments to suturing the anterior cruciate ligament. As a recognised expert, he is a member of the ACL Study Group, a group of international experts who are intensively involved in the treatment of cruciate ligament injuries. And if you want to avoid early arthritis, it is also best to consult the head physician of knee surgery and sports orthopaedics in Basel. The correction of the leg axis ensures that an axial malposition is treated.
People who suffer from instability of the kneecap should seek treatment from a specialist. In advanced stages, reconstruction of the main stabiliser – the so-called medial patellofemoral ligament – can provide relief. And of course, the Clinic for Orthopaedics and Traumatology of the Musculoskeletal System is also the first address in the region for fractures around the knee joint.
Artificial joint for knee: The very best care
Prof. Dr med. Michael Hirschmann has very special expertise in the field of endoprosthetics. Today, those who receive an artificial knee joint not only regain the mobility they have been missing – but often, for the first time in a long time, they are able to move without pain. Many people discover sporting activities in a completely new way with the new knee joint.
Particularly in cases of advanced arthrosis, a knee prosthesis is often the best solution – partial prostheses are often sufficient and, when used correctly, are surprisingly durable today. It is also crucial that the specialist knows exactly which type of prosthesis and which materials are optimal for the respective patients. Prof. Hirschmann and his research group have developed a novel methodology for the optimal individual alignment of knee prostheses. The so-called phenotype alignment, together with knee prostheses from the 3D printer, navigation or robot-assisted knee prosthetics, can make a big contribution to better function and satisfaction. If there is still pain after the insertion of a knee prosthesis and the knee is not stable or swelling occurs, Prof. Hirschmann is also the right person to contact. With a standardised clarification algorithm, the experienced specialist can easily remedy this. Many people from the border region benefit from this – and find out about the options available at the KSBL during the special consultation on "The painful knee prosthesis".
Fitting a knee prosthesis exactly so that it fits perfectly and functions perfectly is a great art – precisely because our knee joints are absolutely individual. Therefore, it is not only the expertise that Prof. Hirschmann has in the initial treatment that is important, but also his competence in the event that the joint replacement causes problems or pain: The team of knee surgery and sports orthopaedics under head physician Prof. Hirschmann also convinces with a high level of expertise in complex replacement operations and complex reconstructions.
The fact that Prof. Hirschmann knows every detail about the knee joint is not only recognised nationally and internationally by the highest authorities – he can also boast more than forty renowned national and international prizes and awards, which he received primarily for his innovations in the field of artificial knee joints and knee joint revisions. He is also on the board of numerous professional associations and expert groups – such as the European Knee Associates (EKA), the European Society of Sports Traumatology Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy (ESSKA) or the German Knee Society (DKG). Prof. Hirschmann is head of a university research group on the knee joint at the University of Basel. With over 230 publications in professional journals and numerous written books, such as “The Unhappy Total Knee Replacement: A Comprehensive Review and Management Guide”, he is one of a small group of globally recognised experts on the knee joint (knee surgery, sports traumatology and complex revision surgery).
So anyone suffering from injuries, diseases or fractures around the knee joint should consult the highly specialised specialist at the Baselland Cantonal Hospital. Many people in the large cross-border region around the university city on the Rhine have long relied on the unique blend of rich experience, recognised expertise and exemplary empathy with which Prof. Hirschmann, MD, at the Cantonal Hospital Baselland, is convincing. And those recovering after a procedure also benefit from the wonderful location: From the idyllic parks you have a fantastic view of the city on the Rhine. Because for Prof. Hirschmann and his team, aftercare also plays an important role.