How to Select the Best Orthopedic Surgeon for your Total Knee Replacement or Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKR/TKA)
Deciding to have Total Knee Replacement Surgery
With anything in life, the more information you have, the more confident you will feel when moving forward with the best surgeon performing a total knee replacement surgery.
After you decided to get total knee replacement surgery, we all want to find the best surgeon. Therefore, selecting a surgeon with a history of successful total knee replacement (TKR), also known as total knee arthroplasty (TKA), will give you peace of mind that you will receive the best treatment available. It is imperative that you feel comfortable with your surgeon and can speak openly about any concerns you may have.
When choosing the best orthopedic surgeon, take into consideration the following factors:
Talk to your current doctor.
Doctors know the reputation of other doctors in their area as well as well-known specialists in their respective fields. When your doctor suggests a specialist; ask why. You can even talk to physical therapists and do your due diligence online. Of course, if you are a medical tourist and going to another country, make sure you speak with the doctor yourself before traveling.
Talk to Family & Friends
It may come as no surprise that total knee arthroplasty is at an all-time high. That means that there are more people out there that can share their experiences with you. Getting information and tips from someone you trust is invaluable. However, keep in mind that we are all different. Some people heal faster or slower than others. We also have different pain tolerance as well.
You’ve found this article. Great Job! Nevertheless, you should keep digging. If you are in the U.S., there are a number of online databases that will point you to several orthopedic surgeons in your area. Make sure you check their background and always ask how often they perform your specific surgery.
Evaluate the Surgeon’s Reputation and Education
Surgeons should stay up-to-date with what is going on in their field. Consequently, we wouldn’t advise you to be the first patient trying state-of-the-art robotic system or something similar. Disclaimer: that is our personal opinion. We are not against any robotic technology or other FDA approved approach to surgery. Nonetheless, new technology comes at a cost. Robotic total knee replacement surgery is the most costly.
Take a look at the surgeons educational background. Are they going to conferences? Giving presentations on a regular basis? Invited to congresses/conferences? Perhaps they are on a panel discussions, which is great! At the same time, take into consideration if your surgeon hasn't participated in any kind of conference lately.
- Make sure your physician is board-certified and with what association. For example, Dr. Rashid Ganji is with the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, but there are other associations as well such as:
Research the Surgeon’s Experience
Ask the surgeon during your consultation how many procedures they have performed in the last 12 months. Studies show that surgeons that perform more than 12 surgeries per year are more likely to succeed with the procedure. In addition, hospitals that perform more than 25 TKR’s have optimum track records. There is a reason why the best surgeons are booked. They perform hundreds of surgeries each year. Many online articles explain this further.
Specialty & Guidance
Just like in every industry or field, total knee replacement specialists gain the most valuable experience through performing operations.
In spite of this, they expand their knowledge and share it through continued education and guidance. This includes being trained with new technologies, current surgical approaches, as well as new instruments and equipment.
Sometimes a patient maybe interested in a specific device or surgical approach. It’s important to find an unbiased surgeon who will advise you if that treatment is right for you.
Usually, in order for a physician to use a specific technique or device, they must be trained by the manufacturer. Some surgeons and hospitals prefer certain manufacturers and devices. If you are insistent on using a specific device or procedure/technique, you can perhaps find a surgeon by visiting the manufacturers website and contacting them if they are not listed publicly.
Having said that, it’s important to take heed to the surgeons recommendations. Surgeons have years of training to determine which procedure and implant is right for you. It’s imperative you ask questions and be comfortable with their choice of implant, technology and method.
Does your Surgeon have Experience with High-Risk Patients?
Your surgeon will request x-rays and some other medical history before your visit to see if you are a suitable candidate for total knee replacement. Once you visit them, their staff and the surgeon will ask you a series of other medical questions. For example, if you have any pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, anemia, or other trauma/complications, be sure to inform your surgeon.
Many surgeons can still successfully perform a total knee replacement despite such issues. Be as it may, question your surgeons experience dealing with complications of these types and others. Always give as much honest information to the surgeon as possible.
When dealing with one’s health, it is not advisable to be coy to save yourself the embarrassment and omit bad habits. No matter what procedure you are interested in.
Will your Health Insurance Pay for Knee Surgery?
Knee surgery is costly. Unfortunately, some patients are limited to the orthopedists insurance providers approve of. If you choose a surgeon outside your plan, you will incur more out-of-pocket expense. That’s why medical tourism is increasing each year. In 2018, it’s expected that 1.4 million Americans will travel abroad for some sort of medical treatment. This saves the average American thousands of dollars.
Meeting with any Knee Surgeon
After you have a list of knee surgeon’s names that you are interested in meeting with, contact them and schedule a consultation. If you’re dealing with a physician overseas or abroad, see how responsive they are. The surgeon's staff represents the surgeon.
If you’re meeting with a local surgeon write down all of the questions you would like to ask beforehand. During the appointment, take notes on their opinions and suggestions once you have explained the situation.
Again, don’t be shy, you are dealing with your health. Be sure to ask your physician about matters such as:
- Do they perform the operation often? Get an approximate number.
- How often they’ve had cases similar to yours?
- The percentage of their patents that need a knee replacement revision?
- Technology used? Which brand? Do they use robotics? Computer assisted?
- Is it possible to have minimal invasive surgery?
- Ask about the risks involved with your individual case?
- What hospital the surgery will be performed?
Cost of Surgery
The cost of total knee replacement surgery in the US has been covered before. Having said that, it needs to be reiterated that insurance plays a large role in what hospital and which surgeon the patient chooses. Don’t limit your choices to a poor facility and surgeon in order to save a few dollars or because they are more available. Your health is more important.
Ask the insurance company which hospitals they work with, how much physical therapy they cover, and what other pre & post operation costs they cover.
It’s not uncommon for patients to be blindsided by fees that the insurance coverage buries under an avalanche of information. Ask someone to help and be sure to do your due diligence when researching total knee surgery costs.
As stated before, if time is of an essence, don’t sacrifice quality health care simply due to a surgeons availability. If you can tolerate the present pain, it’s best to wait for a reputable surgeon that is qualified to perform the TKR. If not, consider your other options accordingly.
Visiting the Office and Meeting Staff
The nurse is usually the person who controls the majority of all appointments. They should give you basic information on what you need to bring, what to expect, and answer any general questions you may have.
When visiting the office you want to make sure you feel comfortable and the staff has a genuine concern for your well-being. They should take the time to answer all your questions thoroughly and eloquently. Just like any business when you are receiving a service, the staff is a big part of the business. Not just the owner, or in this case, the surgeon(s).
Meeting Your Surgeon
How do you feel when you meet your doctor for the first time? We all get first impressions from others.
- Does the orthopedist take their time to answer your questions?
- Do they hurry you along so they can get to the next patient?
- Do you feel like just a number or an important person?
A good orthopedist always spends enough time with each person to discuss their prognosis and options no matter how busy they are.
Get a Second Opinion before your Choose your Surgeon
Perhaps you feel completely comfortable with the diagnosis of the doctor. Still, it is advisable to get a second opinion. If you get information that differs from the previous diagnosis, then don’t be afraid to ask. Perhaps if they vary greatly, consider another opinion.
The Final Decision
Hopefully you have done all your research about finding the best orthopedic surgeon to do your total knee replacement. By following the steps discussed in this article, you will most definitely find the surgeon that is right for you. Although you may currently be in pain, never rush your decision. Take the extra time to plan ahead.
Selecting the right TKR surgeon will literally save you thousands of dollars and, more importantly, save you from future complications. If you have more concerns, please have a look at our other articles and even our FAQ section to inform you further.