With the expansion of on-line information available as well as access to orthopedic specialists, it is easier than ever to gather information regarding joint problems and replacement surgery. A lot of the data available on the internet is not checked for accuracy and claims can be made that are not backed up by data. With this noted. There are several pieces of information that are available and important to joint replacement consumers. A variety of different implants are available for hip and knee replacement surgery. The pros and cons of the various implants can be discussed with your surgeon. Different methods of fixation are available and there is good long term data to review to decide which type of fixation is appropriate for you. When evaluating where to have your surgery and what surgeon to chose, there are several factors to consider. First of all, the hospital that you are considering going to may or may not have a specialty unit dedicated to joint replacement surgery. You want to find out if such a unit is available and whether or not it has received any recognition for excellence in the field of joint replacement. You want to inquire as to whether or not they have standardized protocols for postoperative care and whether or not they use a multi-modal type of pain management program. With regard to surgeons, it is important to inquire how many specific joint replacement procedures they have performed per year. There has been documentation that a higher volume of procedures can be associated with a lower incidence of complications. The definition of what constitutes a high volume total joint surgeon is sometimes a moving target, but most would agree that performing more than 100 hip or knee replacements per year would be considered “high volume”. You also want to inquire whether or not the surgeon keeps track of their outcomes or results and has published any data regarding these. It is important to find out what the actual results are for your surgeon and not just what the national averages may be. Often, the published reports are from high volume centers specialty trained orthopedic surgeons.
When visiting a potential surgeon, inquire as to the facility they utilize for their surgery, the number of cases they do, the type of implants they normally utilize and whether or not they have studied the outcomes of their operations and can discuss knowledgably their success rate and potential complication rate.