Finding an orthopedic surgeon

Talking with an orthopedic surgeon (Photo: Shutterstock)
Jill Dickson

Sponsored Story By Shelbourne Knee Center

Remember that ski trip where you tore your meniscus? How could you forget? The dull ache in your knee reminds you about that adventure every morning. Now arthritis is setting in and that ache is getting worse, letting you know that it’s time to get your knee examined. After the exercise and the cortisone shots fail to give you any relief, your doctor says the best course of action is a knee replacement. But how do you find the orthopedic surgeon to repair and replace your knee?

It’s not very different from finding a primary care physician. Focus on finding a well-regarded surgeon with whom you can communicate freely and honestly. This is especially true if you are planning multiple procedures. Most patients meet with at least two surgeons before scheduling their procedure.

  1. Begin by asking people you trust – especially if they have had the same procedure and have positive results.
  2. Look for a surgeon with a lot of experience and exceptional training (this includes where the surgeon went to medical school and did their residency and fellowship). One place to start is visiting a medical review website like HealthGrades.
  3. Find out about the surgeon’s sub-specialty and if they are board-certified – this means they are experts who are up-to-date in their specialty. Younger doctors might be board-eligible. This means they have completed their residencies and are ready to take their certification exam.
  4. After completing your homework, discuss your choices with your primary-care physician and get their recommendation. Many people ask their primary care physician’s opinion first, but you will feel more comfortable about the procedure if you know the results of your surgeon’s work and their background. Make sure that your surgeon has full access to your medical and prescription history.
  5. Always interview at least two surgeons to get another point of view. Some insurance companies require a second opinion.

The hospital where you have the surgery matters. You will need to know if your surgeon and the hospital are on your insurance’s in-network list. Make sure that your surgeon will do your procedure at a hospital accredited by the Joint Commission. This assures high-quality health care and patient safety standards. Community Hospital East, where many Shelbourne Knee Center patients go, is certified in knee replacement by the Joint Commission.

Questions to Ask Your Surgeon

It is important for you to have an honest, friendly relationship with your doctor. Many people are unsure about taking this step and have a difficult time envisioning their life after surgery. Here is a list of questions that will give you important information about your surgery and make it easy to communicate with your surgeon.

  1. How many times have you done this procedure in the past year and what have the results been?
  2. What are the chances this procedure will work for me?
  3. Do I need to do something like lose weight or do physical therapy before the procedure?
  4. Is there any other way to treat the problems? Any procedure that is less invasive?
  5. What will happen if I don’t have the surgery?
  6. Do I have time to consider other options?
  7. How much will the replacement cost with my insurance?
  8. How can I get my home ready to make it easier after the surgery?
  9. What are the risks and complications of the surgery?
  10. What are will recovery be like?