Working life: Stephen Brennan, orthopaedic surgeon at Bon Secours Hospital, Cork

Stephen Brennan

I drag myself out of bed, have breakfast, feed the cat and say goodbye to my girlfriend before heading for work.



I start with a ward round, touching base with inpatients to make sure everyone had a comfortable night. Most have undergone knee or hip replacement surgery and are rehabilitating. 

I discharge one patient who has undergone hip arthroscopy. This is a keyhole surgery procedure where a small camera is inserted into the joint giving a clear view inside, aiding diagnosis and treating cartilage tears. 

I’m one of a handful of surgeons in Ireland offering this procedure.


At my private rooms in the Cork Clinic, I see patients for a variety of reasons — sports injuries to the knee, such as anterior cruciate ligament tears and meniscal injuries, make up much of the workload. 

I have a particular interest in sports hip and knee injuries as I spent much of my childhood in Australia where I played Aussie Rules. I know how important it is for an athlete to return to sport quickly. 

The sports with the highest rate of joint damage are those that require rapid changes of direction such as soccer, Gaelic and hurling.


I see a patient who requires a total knee replacement. Up to one third of patients with knee arthritis may be suitable for a partial knee replacement. 

I spent the past year in Brisbane completing a fellowship in robotic joint replacement surgery.

The use of robotic technology has many advantages; smaller incisions, higher accuracy of implantation, less pain and faster rehabilitation. Its niche at the moment is partial knee replacements. 

The robotic arm can also do total knee and hip replacements. It’s very popular in Australia and the USA. We’re currently trying to introduce this technology to the Bon Secours, Cork. This would make us one of the first centres in Europe to provide this expertise.


I head to Fitzgerald’s Park for lunch.


The afternoon is spent in theatre. A complex case can take a couple of hours.

Before heading home at about 6pm, I check on post-op patients.


I head to the gym. My girlfriend has roped me into spinning and body sculpt fitness class. My whole body starts to ache — not just my knees and hips.

* Stephen Brennan is an orthopaedic surgeon at Bon Secours Hospital, Cork.


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