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Published on: 13-May-2022

Orthopedic surgery is a challenging medical procedure aiming to treat injuries or conditions of the musculoskeletal system. Most people hesitate to undergo orthopedic surgeries, as they are known to be complex procedures. Moreover, some fear the lengthy and painful recovery. But while the surgery may sound intimidating and the recovery time may be at times painful, it is generally not any more challenging than other surgeries. For more, read here

The Most Difficult Orthopedic Surgeries

According to U.S. Healthcare, about 7 million orthopedic surgeries are performed each year in the United States. The American Joint Replacement Registry (AJRR), in collaboration with the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), has reported on 1.2 million patients with over 1.7 million hip and knee replacement procedures in 2019. 

Spinal Fusion Surgery

Spinal fusion surgery is one of the most challenging procedures, as it involves fusing two vertebrae together to prevent movement from causing pain. In most cases, an orthopedic surgeon uses bone grafting. They take bone from the hip and use it to help bone growth and fuse the vertebrae. Moreover, the surgeon may use metal plates, rods, or screws to hold the vertebrae together until it heals into one solid unit.  

Spinal fusion is a significant surgery, typically lasting several hours. It is performed to improve stability, reduce pain, or treat deformities of the spine, spinal instability, or herniated discs. 

Acetabular Fixation

Fixing fractures from the front of the pelvis may be one of the most complex orthopedic surgeries. The acetabulum is the socket part of the hip joint, so the surgeon has a small window through which they need to work. The procedure is major because of so many large blood vessels around. 

Moreover, the joint must be very precisely returned to the exact position to avoid the occurrence of arthritis in the hip joint. 

Total Joint Replacement

 A damaged or diseased joint is replaced with a highly durable prosthesis made from ceramic, metal, or plastic during a total joint replacement. The prosthetic functions and feels like a natural joint, and the patient can expect pain relief and improved joint function. 

The most common medical complication related to joint replacement surgery is deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

If you undergo total joint replacement surgery, you may need a hospital stay of at least three days or longer. In addition, you may need some degree of assistance in the following six weeks. Complete recovery may last for a year, but it generally depends on the patient’s condition. 

Distal Humerus Fractures

The National Center for Biotechnology Information states that a distal humerus fracture is a challenge for orthopedic surgeons. However, advancements in treatment options are continuously made to achieve the best results for patients suffering from such complex fractures. 

Initially, an orthopedist will try nonsurgical treatments to improve mobility and reduce pain. However, most distal humerus fractures require surgery if:

  1. The bones moved out of place (displaced fracture)
  2. The skin was punctured by pieces of bone (open fracture)

In case of a severe open fracture, your surgeon may apply an external fixator to ensure that the bones are held in place until they conduct a second surgery. 

Final Words

Some of the most common procedures performed by orthopedic surgeons are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), knee replacement,  hip replacements,  or spinal surgeries (laminectomies, spinal fusions). 

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, knee replacement is one of modern medicine’s most successful medical procedures. In 2021, there were more than a half-million knee replacements surgeries in the United States. Separately, over 300,000 total hip replacement surgeries occur each year.

An orthopedic surgeon must work with precise expertise. Many surgeons perform minimally-invasive surgeries using the latest techniques such as robotic surgery. Contact a professional to learn more about orthopedic surgeries, its pros and cons, recovery time, and more.


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The post Is Orthopedic Surgery Difficult? appeared first on Sports Medicine Weekly.