Minimally Invasive Surgery’s Expanding Role in Orthopedic Medicine

Over 20 years ago we started to hear about how arthroscopic surgery had revolutionized knee surgery. Before then, if a patient had torn knee cartilage the surgical procedure required opening the knee, and a recovery period of several weeks or months was expected. Now many, if not most, knee surgeries are performed through small keyhole incisions using an arthroscopic tube. This type of surgery is much less intrusive to the body, and is now the trend in spine and other orthopedic surgeries as well.

Surgical procedures are often referred to as either open or minimally invasive. Open procedures require larger incisions, more anesthesia, longer operating time, hospitalization, and the patient usually needs more time to recuperate. Minimally invasive surgical (MIS) techniques utilize portals or tiny incisions made in the skin through which small, specialized instruments are inserted.

Minimally invasive techniques are designed for:

  • Less blood loss
  • Lower infection rate
  • Less patient pain
  • Quicker patient ambulation and return to work
  • Less overall costs for appropriately indicated patients

Today many different types of orthopedic surgery can be performed utilizing minimally invasive techniques. Some types of MIS use laser technology. New instruments for use in MIS continue to be developed and refined. Imaging technology also plays a role in MIS development. As surgeons are better able to visualize and guide tools and implants to desired locations, the complexity and learni?????????????????????????????????ng curve required for MIS surgery will lessen. Minimally invasive techniques also allows for cases to take place in the outpatient ambulatory surgery center setting, keeping medical costs lower and allowing patients to recover comfortably at home or in a rehabilitation facility.

Each case is unique and not all patients are good candidates for MIS; open surgery isn’t going away any time soon. There will always be a role for traditional open approaches, but the role for MIS will continue to expand.

If you are considering orthopedic surgery, schedule a consultation with Dr. Wes Johnson. He and his team can help you decide what options are best for you.

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How to Choose the Right Orthopedic Surgeon for You

Orthopedics is a specialty focusing on the care of patients with musculoskeletal problems including congenital deformities, trauma, infections, tumors, metabolic disturbances of the musculoskeletal system, deformities, injuries and degenerative diseases of the spine, hands, feet, knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows in children and adults. In other words, orthopedic surgeons are in the important business of bones. When you need this kind of doctor, how do you know who to choose?

Start by asking yourself some questions:

  • What outcome are you hoping for? Do you want relief from pain in everyday activities or the ability to perform vigorous sports activities?
  • What does your health plan cover? Are there any restrictions in your choice of physician or facility where surgery is performed?
  • Are there specific techniques or types of procedures you want to know more about?
  • How close to home do you want to be for surgery and the rehabilitation after surgery?
  • Do you like and trust this doctor?
  • Do you feel good about this doctor’s expertise?
  • Do you and this doctor communicate well?

Consider asking a prospective surgeon questions including:

  • What procedures do you recommend for my case? Why?
  • How many times have you performed this procedure in the past year?
  • What is your complication rate?
  • How do you follow a patient post-surgery?
  • thTell me about your medical team – nurses, physical therapists, and others who can help guide me pre and post-surgery.

Although all orthopedic surgeons are qualified to perform a wide range of procedures, different doctors will have specific areas of expertise, special training, and unique practice philosophies. Some may practice new approaches you’ve heard about in the news; others may stick with traditional time-proven procedures.

If you are experiencing a joint or spine problem, contact Dr. Wes Johnson for a consultation. He will answer all of your questions and help you determine what option is best for you.

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