6 Tips for Choosing an Orthopedic Surgeon

Many patients, like Connie Droste of Portland, Michigan, decide to get a second opinion before undergoing major surgery. It’s important to feel confident in — and comfortable with —your orthopedic surgeon. Here are some tips to help you in your selection:

  1. Start with your primary care physician and ask for a referral.
  2. Ask family and friends if they can recommend an orthopedic surgeon. Arthritis and joint-replacement surgeries are common today — you’re sure to know someone with first-hand experience.
  3. Check out your surgeon’s background online. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons have online databases for consumer access.
  4. Ask questions. You have a right to ask your orthopedic surgeon about credentials and experience, and your surgeon should be willing to answer all your questions. For starters, here are some commonly asked questions:
    • Are you board certified?
    • Approximately how many of these surgeries are done each year at Sparrow?
    • What is your experience with this type of surgery? How many have you performed?
    • What risks might be involved that I need to consider? How likely are those risks?
    • Is there written material or videotapes about this?
    • Will I be anesthetized? How? What are the risks?
    • What type of implant will be used? How durable is it? What else do I need to know about it?
    • How long will I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long is the recovery process?
    • Will I experience a lot of pain? If so, what kind of pain relief will be available to me?
    • Will I need physical therapy? For how long?
    • Are there any restrictions on everyday activities, such as driving, bathing, using stairs or having sex?
    • How long will I need to be off work?
    • How often must I return for follow-up appointments?
    • What are the signs of trouble or complication that I should look for post-surgery?
    • How much improvement should I expect following surgery?
  5. Get a second opinion to make sure you understand what you’re being told and to ensure that you and your surgeon are on the same page.
  6. Don’t settle. If a surgeon makes you uncomfortable, it may just be that you’re not suited for each other. In that case, you should keep looking for the right fit.