Written by Robert Dean, M.D.
As a doctor, I’ve spent many years helping patients figure out what treatment options are best for their individual conditions. Once I have identified the underlying medical problem, I always lay out all treatment options – and if having surgery is one of these options, I would do everything in my power to be sure that they would see the most qualified surgeons in that field. Whether the patient is facing heart surgery, gallbladder surgery, or joint replacement surgery, it is always prudent and appropriate for a person to seek a second opinion. While surgery may be the best solution for a patient, it is invasive and will likely require a hospital stay and an extended recovery period. That’s why it’s important for patients to empower themselves to make the best decision for their long-term health and wellness. In this article, I will share my recommendations for individuals seeking treatment options for knee, hip, shoulder, or other joint pain who have been told that surgery may be the best option.
Ask the Right Questions
Most laypeople do not realize that every surgeon is different in terms of years of experience and surgical training, approaches, and techniques applied to the type of surgery being performed. When it comes to total joint replacement surgery, there are orthopedic surgeons that have been trained to perform different types of total joint replacements in which they cut out the ends of the bone, creating a post or base to adhere the implant to in order to help stop joint pain. So, before a patient commits to total joint replacement surgery, here are the questions to ask:
- How many of these procedures has the surgeon performed?
- Is this something they specialize in or do they just do one or two replacements per month?
- Which implants do they use?
- What are the complication and infection rate at the hospital where the procedure will be performed?
Understanding Surgical Implants
Regarding the final question about implants, it’s important to know that there are dozens – yes, dozens – of different knee, hip, and shoulder implants from different companies. These implants are all slightly different and one may be better for you versus another. Every human body is unique, so having the option of one particular style or design of implant versus another may be critical to your success as far as function and pain relief.
You probably don’t know that orthopedic surgeons typically adhere to one or two brands or variations. The surgical technique can be slightly specific to that implant, and the surgeon may not be exploring options for learning how to use other types of implants. That’s why it’s so important that you ask the questions and get all of the information you need.
It is also important to know that sometimes patients believe they are having joint replacement surgery done with a specific implant. When patients are rolled into the operating room, they are often anxious and out of sorts and tend to glance over the surgical consent form without confirming that the implants being used are in fact what they have been told would be used. I have a specific example of a patient who thought she was having a hip replacement and the make and model of the implants she was to have was made of titanium. After her surgery, she had a lot of post-procedure difficulties with pain, swelling, and inflammation and it appeared that she was having a reaction to the actual implant. Approximately 3 months later, she found out that the implant used was a generic implant made of nickel, not titanium, and she had very specifically listed on her allergy sheet that she was allergic to nickel. Sadly, she had to have the implant removed in a second surgery and the appropriate implant. And, unfortunately, revisions of surgeries are typically longer to heal and don’t have the best outcomes.
This topic was covered in-depth on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and I highly recommend that anyone considering joint replacement surgery watches the clip in full.
Understanding Hospital Stays & Recovery Time
Almost all joint replacement surgeries are performed in hospitals because the hospital needs to supply the particular implant that the surgeon chooses. What does this mean for the patient? It means that you will have to go under anesthesia and then there will be wound healing and weeks or months of post-surgical physical rehabilitation.
Seeking a Second Opinion
Now that you understand the right questions to ask if you are told that you need total joint replacement surgery and know what to expect from your hospital stay and post-procedure recovery, let’s explore the process of getting a second opinion.
The only way to determine which surgeon is the best match for you based on experience and skill, as well as which implant is best, is to have at least two if not three consultations with different orthopedic surgeons. Remember, joint replacement surgery is an invasive process that requires a hospital stay and a long recovery process, so you need to be informed and empowered to make the absolute best decision for yourself.
Contact Me for a Second Opinion
So the moral of the story is “buyer beware” – because 1) you want a surgeon who has the right skill and experience, 2) you want to know which implants the surgeon is trained to use and why they choose that particular company and brand, and 3) you want to make sure the hospital that is going to host the surgery is one that has a low infection rate and provides the appropriate implant devices – so that you get what you’re paying for and the pain relief that you need.
I started AROmotion to help more patients experiencing joint pain get fast relief without surgery. We have treated more than 1,200 patients with an extremely high success rate because we have a thorough screening process to determine who is a candidate. If you are seeking a second opinion on joint replacement surgery, I can help by assessing your situation to determine if you are a candidate for the AROmotion procedure. Just fill out the form below and someone on my team will contact you to schedule a free virtual consultation.
By entering your information and clicking Submit, you are consenting to be contacted by our company representatives by phone, email, text/SMS, and through the use of automatic telephone dialing systems and prerecorded messages at the number(s) and email address(es) listed above even if your number provided on the form above is on a National or State Do Not Call List. Your consent does not require you to purchase any goods and/or services and you understand that you are not required to sign this authorization to receive services.