Finding the right surgeon for your total knee replacement surgery is vital, and that’s why patients are encouraged to spend time selecting the right orthopedic surgeon for their needs. The problem is that many patients don’t know where to start.
Should they select a surgeon based on what they think life after a knee replacement may look like? Or should patients simply trust whatever referral they get from their general practitioner? In general, there are a few different strategies that patients can try.
Get a Referral From Your Doctor
Most people probably don’t have a lot of experience searching for a knee surgeon, much less vetting the results. And that’s okay! That’s why doctors have developed a system of referrals to recommend qualified surgeons. In most cases, you’ll receive a referral from your primary care physician. In other cases, you might be referred by another specialist. In either case, you’ll have the name of a qualified knee surgeon.
That said, you are under no obligation to stick with the referral you are given. Once you meet with your referred orthopedic surgeon, you should make an evaluation based on several criteria:
- Personal feelings: While they may seem trivial at first glance, your personal feelings about your surgeon are indeed important. Your knee surgeon should be someone you trust, someone you can get along with, and someone who you feel has your best interests at heart, and who will listen to you. That’s important because you’re going to have to follow your surgeon’s instructions. So it’s vital that you trust your surgeon.
- Research the surgeon: You should also look at a surgeon’s credentials, which are especially important. You may feel more comfortable, for example, with a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery or who is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons--both organizations that emphasize continued training and substantial experience. Likewise, you can research reviews of orthopedic surgeons to see how other patients responded to that particular surgeon in the past.
- Get to know your surgeon: You can ask your surgeon about his or her experience--how long they’ve been practicing surgery, the specificity of their education, and so on. You may also want to know whether your surgeon performs knee replacement as an outpatient surgery or whether a hospital stay is required. You could ask about your surgeon’s admitting privileges or if they perform their surgical procedures at, for example, the Iowa City Ambulatory Surgical Center.
You likely won’t have to make a decision on a surgeon immediately, and it can sometimes be helpful to “shop around” to sample several different surgeons. Knowing what to expect after a knee replacement can help you ask insightful and accurate questions, so a little research can also be useful.
Where Should I Have My Knee Replacement?
The surgeon you select will determine where your knee replacement surgery is performed. If you know, for example, that you want your total knee replacement performed on an outpatient basis--as outpatient surgery--then it’s essential to ask about this during your initial meeting and consultation.
The Iowa City Ambulatory Surgical Center is one of the leading surgery centers in the region. If you know you want your procedure to be performed here on an outpatient basis, you can ask your surgeon whether she has surgical privileges at this location--or you can seek out a surgeon who already does.
At a surgical center, a patient comes in, undergoes surgery, and returns home the same day. This outpatient surgery can create significant recovery and cost benefits, so it’s not unreasonable for patients to factor this in when selecting a knee surgeon. Many patients in fact, will start their search knowing they want to have their knee replacement procedure performed at the Iowa City Ambulatory Surgical Center--and finding a surgeon from there.
Make the Choice That’s Right For You
Every patient is unique, so you’re going to bring individualized requirements to your knee surgeon search. You’ll have your own vision of what life after a knee replacement may look like. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that you are selecting the right surgeon for you--and for you alone. So you’ll have to put some thought into the choice--and remember that in this one particular instance, it’s all about you. You want to make the best choice for your health and for the success of your procedure.
There’s no such thing as the best knee surgeon--only the best knee surgeon for you.