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Listener Question: What Should I Look for in a Joint Replacement Surgeon?

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Listener Question: What Should I Look for in a Joint Replacement Surgeon?

Apr 27, 2017

Are you needing a knee or hip replacement? What sort of doctor should you look for? Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Chris Pelt says patients should Lind a surgeon with whom they are comfortable and can communicate well. Learn some other important factors to consider when choosing the surgeon who will operate on you.

Announcer: Need reliable health and wellness information? Don't listen to the guy in the cube next to you. Get it from a trusted source, straight from the doctor's mouth. Here's this week's listener question on The Scope.

What Kind of Doctor Should I Look For?

Interviewer: Today's listener question is what should somebody look for in an orthopedic surgeon when they're having a knee or hip replacement done. We're talking with Dr. Chris Pelt. He's an orthopedic surgeon and an expert in these types of replacements at University of Utah Health Care. What do you tell somebody if they were to come up to you at a party and say, "What should I look for in a doctor when I'm considering this kind of surgery?"

Look For Connection

Dr. Pelt: I tell them to find a surgeon that they feel personally comfortable with, someone that they connect with.

Interviewer: Even if they're really, really good at it, if you're not making that connection you say go find somebody else.

Dr. Pelt: Yeah, exactly. I think that's an important thing because this will become a lifelong relationship with a surgeon. We will follow it for the rest of your life, so you want to be able to connect with that surgeon. But the other thing is you want to find someone who's technically very, very skillful. That's often with experience. Surgeons that perform over 100 hip or knee replacements a year tend to have a better outcome than surgeons that perform fewer surgeries per year, and so often is an important question to find out how many of these types of surgeries your surgeon performs.

Look For Experience

Interviewer: And that's something you could just ask. You can just ask, "How many do you do a year?"

Dr. Pelt: Absolutely. And if a surgeon is offended by that question, the patient may want to take pause. Most surgeons that are experienced and comfortable with their own skill set will have no problem answering a question like that.

Look For a Quality Surgical Center

Interviewer: Beyond the surgeon, where you go, does that make a difference, kind of like the philosophy of the surgical center you do go to?

Dr. Pelt: Just like the surgeon, the facilities are very important both in their quality and cleanliness, their infection rates. A surgical center that does more of the same types of procedures will be better at what they do, so high volume centers that perform high numbers of hip and knee replacements annually will have better outcomes than places that do it more uncommonly.

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