Marc Rosen, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, has practiced in the west Phoenix/Glendale area for 25 years and has served as chief of surgery and chief of staff at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center.
Question: My doctor has told me I need a joint replacement. What questions should I ask before I undergo this type of surgical procedure?
Answer: Over 300,000 hip and knee replacements are performed in the United States each year. Less commonly, the shoulder, elbow and ankle are replaced. These surgical procedures replace the diseased joint surfaces with plastic, metal or ceramic surfaces. As technological advances in arthroplasty surgery move forward at a rapid pace, many more arthritis sufferers will benefit.
Before undergoing any surgical procedure, the patient should be certain that all non-surgical options have been tried. In the case of arthritis surgery, the usual non-surgical treatments are injecting of the damaged joint with medications (cortisone preparations or newer lubricating medications), as well as medications taken by mouth and physical therapy programs.
If you have never considered non-surgical approaches, it is important that you ask your doctor if you would benefit from one.
Once you and your doctor determine surgery is the appropriate treatment, you should fully understand all the components of the operation and remember that every surgical procedure entails risk.
Most important, patients should ask what will be expected of them after surgery. What will the rehabilitation entail, how long is the hospital stay, what are my needs when I go home?
Be sure you understand not only the risks and benefits of the intended surgery but also how you and your family can be involved.