Is there a best orthopaedic surgeon to see?

The best hip surgeon or the best knee surgeon?

People often want to know “Who is the best hip surgeon”? or “Who is the best knee surgeon?” to see regarding their hip knee.

Fortunately, Australia has an extremely high standard of surgical training and so there are many competent surgeons around and usually no single “best surgeon”.   However, different surgeons do have varying training and experience and so, when deciding who to see, you may want to ask or consider the following:

 

  1. Where did the surgeon train? In Australia, in takes a long time to become a licensed surgeon! Surgeons first complete medical school (usually 6 years at university), then work in a hospital as a junior doctor or “resident medical officer” 2-4 years and then enter surgery training (4-8 years). i.e by the time a doctor becomes an licensed Orthopaedic Surgeon they have usually studied and trained for around 16 years. The licensing requirements are not as rigorous in many places overseas.
  2. Has the surgeon completed additional sub-specialist “fellowship” training? In addition to the compulsory “basic” orthopaedic training (approx. 16 years – see q1”), some surgeons will undertake additional optional subspecialist fellowship training. This is an opportunity for surgeons to undertake additional training with experts in a particular field. Some surgeons who do fellowships stay in Australia, whereas others take the opportunity to train with experts overseas. Fellowships are not compulsory but provide surgeons with further opportunity to hone their skills under experts in the field. Seeking out a fellowship-trained surgeon may give you further reassurance that your surgeon is a best trained as possible.
  3. How many of a particular operation does a surgeon do a year? There is strong evidence in the literature that surgeons who do high volume of a particular procedure are more reliably to achieve good results. There is often truth to the old saying of “practice makes perfect”. While some rare surgeons may be able to operate all over the body and achieve reproducible results even on operations that they do infrequently, most surgeons are more confident with operations that they do regularly.

 

  1. Is the surgeon willing to put you in touch with other patients who have had the procedure? Being able to talk directly to past patients is usually enormously educational, helpful and reassuring. A good surgeon will usually have no hesitation in putting prospective patients in touch with past patients.

 

  1. Do you and the surgeon have good rapport?
    With many competent surgeons available, often the best recommendation is to trust your instincts and to go with a surgeon with whom you “clicked” and have a good relationship. The surgeon you choose will not just be operating on you but will be managing your care in the hospital as well as following you up afterwards. If you see one surgeon but for, whatever, don’t feel comfortable to proceed, it is often wise to seen another opinion. Patient-surgeon rapport and confidence is important.
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