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Choosing a Joint Surgeon

Choosing an excellent orthopedic surgeon is one of the most important decisions you and your family will make.

“As patients learn about treatment options for their joint pain, it is important to make an informed decision about where to place their trust,” says Ed Tufaro, Vice President of Orthopedics at Memorial Hermann Joint Center.

“We put patients first at Memorial Hermann, and our team of affiliated specialists at our Joint Center is committed to providing the highest quality of patient care, using the most advanced technology and minimally invasive techniques,” he adds.

“The physicians affiliated with the Joint Center specialize in the nonsurgical and surgical treatment of joint pain and offer the most progressive standard of care available,” Tufaro explains. “Each year, Joint Center physicians perform more than 3,000 hip and knee joint replacement procedures at our eight locations, more than any other health system in the Greater Houston area.”

Trust matters

Joint-Pain-Doctors

“We like to give patients a head start with the ‘trust’ factor, helping boost their confidence in our affiliated physicians because they have already met strict criteria to be identified as a Joint Center surgeon,” he says.

The Joint Center physicians, for example, must have a commitment to research or education to ensure they stay current in understanding the latest in patient care, surgical techniques, pain management and postoperative care.

The specialty of orthopedic surgery, and specifically joint replacement, changes very quickly. It is vital that Joint Center surgeons gain the latest knowledge, so their patients experience the best clinical outcome and the best functional outcomes possible.

Memorial Hermann Joint Center-affiliated physicians track a patient’s clinical and functional outcomes at six months, 12 months and yearly.

Tufaro describes the importance of understanding the patient’s motivation for the procedure. “Usually, a patient comes to a point in their life when they are no longer able to do something – perhaps not easily play with their grandchildren or continue to exercise the way they did previously. It is not enough to have a successful surgery. We want to know, ‘Did we improve the patient’s mobility?’ and ‘Did we help a patient achieve his or her lifestyle goals?’”

When choosing an orthopedic surgeon, it is important to know about the surgeon’s training and experience: 

  • Consider the training, skills and experience of the surgeon.
  • If the patient is having a specific procedure, consider how many of these procedures the surgeon has performed.
  • Consider the quality of care provided at the hospital where the orthopedic surgeon treats patients.

Patients often know someone in their families or social circles who has had a joint replacement surgery, so it is natural to ask them, “Who did your surgery?” and “How was it?” If that surgeon does not focus on, or specialize in, joint replacement that may indicate the surgeon is less engaged with joint replacement than a surgeon at the Joint Center who performs at least 75 procedures a year.

“Our entire staff and affiliated physicians are dedicated to providing patients with the highest quality of care before, during and after the surgical experience,” Tufaro notes. “We work with each patient regarding pain management, and most of our patients walk on the day of surgery.”

Two-way communication

A good patient-doctor relationship is always important. “We encourage patients to have an open and honest conversation with their surgeon at each appointment,” he says. “For example, patients should discuss with their physician which implant the surgeon recommends and why. Our surgeons perform a high volume of surgeries, and their expertise is very valuable.

In a world of constant marketing messages, many patients think that a fancier or more customized implant is better when the evidence does not currently support that difference. Our affiliated Joint Center physicians utilize an evidence-based process to identify the best implants to use.”

Another conversation the patient and physician should have is related to risk factors to address before surgery. Risk factors such as a history of arrhythmia and other cardiac problems, obesity, diabetes, rheumatologic disease and nicotine use may impact a patient’s outcome.

“We know from data that a patient’s outcome, both clinically and functionally, will be better if medical issues are addressed first,” adds Tufaro. “It is essential for patients to work with their physician to understand the seriousness of risk factors and not be in such a hurry for the procedure that they look for a surgeon who ignores the importance of risk factors.”

Large network of affiliated surgeons focused on joint replacement

Successful joint replacement surgery takes more than technical expertise.

“It has to be connected to a large comprehensive program, and that is what we have at our Joint Centers,” explains Tufaro. “We encourage patients to understand how our surgeons are plugged into our program. We have a large network, and this adds value to our patients.”

Each Memorial Hermann Joint Center features the latest treatment advances available in joint replacement surgery, including new prescription options, joint injections and physical therapy, as well as minimally invasive joint replacement surgery – all strengthened by highly skilled specialists who deliver a team approach to patient care.

Memorial Hermann Joint Centers are conveniently located throughout the Greater Houston area: Bellaire, Greater Heights, Katy, Memorial City, Southeast, Southwest, Sugar Land and The Woodlands.

To learn more, call (713) 272-1888.