Joint Replacement: Selecting a Surgeon


Andrew M. Star, MD
Medical Director of the Orthopaedic and Spine Institute at Abington Health

More than one million Americans have a hip or knee replaced each year. Once you make the decision to seek treatment for your joint problem, selecting the right orthopaedic specialist is crucial. Like any surgery, joint replacement carries risks, but the right doctor will work with you every step of the way to address your concerns. You can learn more about the procedure at Dr. Star’s live web chat: Joint Replacement: Are You a Candidate for Minimally Invasive Hip or Knee Replacement?

Patients often seek help when their joints become painful or make it difficult for them to move, but also have to consider their general health prior to surgery, how advanced the problem is, how invasive the procedure will be, and how they will manage their surgery and recovery. Choosing a surgeon may not be the first thing on their minds, but this checklist covers the essential questions to ask:

  • How many of these surgeries do you do in a year? In general, a joint replacement surgeon is considered to be busy if he does at least 50 to 100 per year.
  • Do you perform specialized surgeries? Prospective patients who may need a second replacement, called a revision (which is becoming more common) or have other special needs may want an orthopaedist with experience in that area.
  • What kind of follow-up care can I expect? Ask about the hospital’s general philosophy regarding post-surgical procedure: Do they require urinary catheters post-operatively?  Do they start physical therapy immediately after surgery so patients can get home more quickly? How is post-surgical pain addressed?  Who are the therapists and other hospital staff who will be involved? 
  • What about the level of satisfaction of their past patients? Have you spoken to people who have had surgery at the facility? 

Eight or nine out of ten people who have hip or knee replacement have complete pain relief within a year, according to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons. Finding the right orthopaedic doctor, hospital and program can make achieving that goal much easier.

Join Dr. Star’s live Health Chat with Abington Health on Thursday, January 16th at 7 pm: Joint Replacement: Are You a Candidate for Minimally Invasive Hip or Knee Replacement? Sign up now.