A recent edition of U.S. News and World Report (July 23, 2007) came out with their annual rankings of best hospitals. In this issue, they also had information regarding hip and knee replacement. This information was generally factual and it gave several good points of advice. Among these were questions to ask your surgeon prior to considering joint replacement surgery. It recommends asking your surgeon the number of procedures he or she performs per year, the number of procedures performed at the hospital you are considering, and the complication rate of your surgeon. These are important points, as several studies have shown higher volume surgeons and higher volume hospitals tend to have a lower complication rate and higher success rate versus lower volume centers. It also discussed many of the advances that have taken place in joint replacement including improvements in pain management, less invasive surgical exposures, and managed programs for recovery. The hip replacement article discussed a short-term failure of total hip replacement, that being failure of bony ingrowth into the implant. While this happens, fortunately it is an infrequent complication after total hip replacement and in the case of this article, like most, it can be solved by a second operation.
If you have questions regarding joint replacement surgery, there are multiple websites available including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, and several commercial websites of implant manufactures.
William P. Barrett, M.D.