How Do You Choose a Orthopedic Surgeon (knee doctor or hip doctor)?
Dr. Swann cares deeply about his patients well-being and knows how important it is to find the right surgeon for you. Surgery is a big decision, so we’ve built some helpful questions below that you can ask your potential surgeon at your initial appointment or your second-opinion appointment to know you’re getting the best care.
Do you have special training in the joint replacement surgery field? Did you do a fellowship in joint replacement surgery?
A general orthopedic surgeon has many years of training, with the whole process taking 13 years. Those that elect to do a sub-specialty fellowship program will have an additional year of training (14 total) to give them expert and specialized training in their focused field. There are fellowships in trauma, spine, hand, foot and ankle, sports medicine and joint reconstruction. Your surgeon will generally perform more surgeries and typically have better outcomes in their focused field than that of their peers who are specialized in something different. This additional year can give great exposure to complex cases and help to better understand even the straight forward cases. Due to the orthopedic field’s constant change, the additional year can help surgeons gain insights into the newest technologies and data available.
How many hip and knee replacements do you perform annually?
Generally speaking, the higher number of procedures a surgeon performs per year the lower their complication will be. This is due to the fact they have been through this surgery many times and are comfortable getting a good result in that procedure. A good rule of thumb for a specialized joint surgeon is around 250 total hip and knee procedures per year.
Do you also perform “revision” or “redo” surgery of failed or poorly done total joint? if I develop a complication, do you handle this yourself?
Few surgeons will take on the task of fixing or revising a previously done joint replacement that has failed or has developed a complication. The reason is because these redo surgeries are usually more complex and are best left to the expertise of a fellowship trained joint surgeon. The additional year of training in their specialty focus helps provide the tools to tackle these challenging cases. These surgeons that are trained to take on the redo surgery from another surgeon are often great initial choices for your first replacement surgery too!
Do you offer minimally invasive surgery like the direct anterior hip or mini-posterior hip approach?
There has been a lot of focus on minimally invasive surgery over the last decade in joint replacement surgery. Surgeons have developed surgical approaches to reduce the surgical incision size and number of muscle or tendon releases in surgery to help with recovery and reduce blood loss. Certain approaches have helped with reducing dislocation rates by fine tuning implant positioning. It is important to note different patients may do better with different incision types.