The decision to have joint replacement surgery is an important step toward restoring an active lifestyle. Finding the right surgeon, one with a history of successful joint replacement surgeries, will help ensure the best possible results.

According to J. Craig Morrison, M.D., SJRI orthopaedic surgeon and joint replacement specialist, a general orthopaedic surgeon completes five years of broad specialty training following medical school. A joint replacement specialist completes yet another year of fellowship training mastering the complexities of joint replacement procedures. "Joint replacement specialists are uniquely trained to be masters in performing not only primary joint replacement, but also more complicated cases and revisions of failed surgeries," he said.

Complex joint replacements are often required for surgical patients who have experienced a major injury earlier in their life and over time post-traumatic arthritis has formed around the joint. In these cases, surgery can be complicated due to deformity in the bone; or by hardware, old incisions or scar tissue from a previous surgery, according to Dr. Morrison.

"Revision replacement occurs when a patient has already had a joint replacement and some element has failed. This can be for a variety of reasons, including the age of the implant. "In many cases, however, a revision is required due to a problem with the first surgery."

It is important to feel confident in your choice of a surgeon to perform the procedure. According to a study cited by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, you may increase the likelihood of a successful replacement surgery and decrease the likelihood of complications by choosing a surgeon and a hospital that have dedicated resources and perform a high volume of joint replacements each year.

Scientific peer reviewed data shows that the more procedures performed by a surgeon, the lower the complication rate. Likewise, when more surgeries are performed at a particular facility, it results in fewer complications. The key differentiator is volume," said Dr. Morrison. "Most orthopaedic surgeons will perform less than 100 hip or knee replacements per year. On the other hand, joint replacement specialists perform between 300 and 500 joint replacements each year. Volume just makes you a better surgeon, not just in the procedure, but in the aftercare as well."

"Because we focus exclusively on total joint replacement patients every day, we are more experienced and are more likely to identify, diagnose and solve a complication," said Dr. Morrison. "For example, infection is not always obvious, but a common reason for a joint replacement failing. Ligament instability is another complication of joint replacement surgery that is subtle and hard to identify unless you have performed and examined thousands of replacement surgeries."

Joint replacement specialists are continuously learning and are current on the latest advancements in joint replacement surgery so as to ensure the best possible outcome for their patients. "At SJRI, it is important for us to offer both nonsurgical and surgical options to help our patients achieve their lifestyle goals," said Dr. Morrison. "We not only offer our patients the latest, most effective treatment options for their joint pain, but are often asked to train other surgeons as part of national medical conferences hosted throughout the country."

If you are ready for an expert opinion on how best to treat your hip, knee or shoulder pain - including both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options – call 615-342-0038.