James P DeVellis is an expert on all things orthopedics. He is particularly concerned about the fact that spinal, neck, hip, and knee ailments are rising. One of the reasons for that is that people simply live longer, but it is also because of misconduct: people don’t look after their body properly. The first line of treatment is to be voluntarily fitted with neck braces, take part in physiotherapy, and use local muscle relaxants. However, at some point, surgery becomes necessary.

James P DeVellis on Finding a Good Orthopedic Surgeon

Orthopedic surgery is a major operation. It first started in the 1960s, and it has come a long way since. Today, surgery is usually very successful, as well as safe. However, you do still have to make sure that the surgeon who performs the procedure is qualified to do so.

There have been some allegations lately that it is almost impossible to truly find out what a surgeon’s experience is. This was highlighted on a Fox program some time ago. Essentially, the only way for people to find out how many procedures a particular surgeon has performed, is to ask them directly. DeVellis feels that a database should be made available in which a list of the types of surgeries and their successes are listed that each surgeon has performed. This is because research has shown that the greatest success rates are found with surgeons who have performed at least 25 procedures.

Until that is in place, however, he recommends that people:

  1. Look into the credentials of a surgeon they are referred to. They should look at their degree and training, educational background, skill, and experience.
  2. Speak to their local doctor who can recommend which surgeons they feel are most specialized in the procedure you need.
  3. Ask about a surgeon’s particular skills. They should always find out how many procedures they have performed in the past. 25 surgeries a year indicates a very good surgeon. People should also ask about complication rates, and how surgeons manage complex cases.
  4. Have a consultation with their preferred surgeon before they decide to go ahead with the surgery itself. The procedure should be discussed and realistic expectations sets.
  5. Go for a second opinion. We have a natural inclination to automatically believe in the authority of people in white coats. In reality, however, doctors are only human as well and they can get things wrong.
  6. Ask about the recovery period. A surgeon should be very clear about what to expect after the surgery and what type of rehabilitation will be required.

It is very important to do your research before you agree to have surgery performed on you. Orthopedic surgery is major surgery and it is life-changing as well. If all goes well, it will significantly increase your quality of life. However, surgery should always be seen as a last resort option. If other treatment forms exist, you should try those first.

Categorized in: