Orthopedic Surgery


To correct their musculoskeletal deformities such as fractures and fragile bones, patients who experience these kinds of conditions resort for an Orthopedic Surgery. It is a surgical treatment performed by a medical specialist specifically an orthopedic surgeon, who assesses and cures problems involving the bones, joints and the ligaments. Common surgical procedures include ORIF (Open Reduction with Internal Fixation), Closed Reduction with Internal Fixation and Arthroscopic surgeries of the knee. It may also treat problems involving the nervous system such as Muscular Dystrophy and Cerebral Palsy. It also remedies different skeletal deformities in the spinal cord, such as following an injury. These problems may be congenital in nature, through an injury or declining function associated with age. It could be classified as acute, where an injury or trauma causes the alteration of function, or chronic such as age-related changes.

In the past, orthopedic surgeons treated spine and leg irregularities in children where they apply braces to strengthen the bones of the child. It was where the name Orthopedics originated, from two Greek words “ortho” meaning straight, and “pais“, the Greek name for child. Through the advents of anesthesia and the application of aseptic techniques, the work of orthopedic surgeons gradually shifted to associated nerves and tissues of different bones.

Although several orthopedic surgeons undergo specialization in particular surgeries such as spinal disorders and in hand and joint replacement surgeries, most of them are still practicing general surgery. Others might specialize in treating injuries in trauma units and emergency rooms, a field called as trauma medicine. Some of them might even go beyond their field and collaborate with podiatrists, geriatric specialists and other related medical allied groups. An emerging field of orthopedics is Sports Medicine, which are composed of board certified orthopedic surgeons.

A variety of extensive procedures are offered by orthopedic surgeons, such as amputations, traction, spinal fusion, hand reconstruction and joint replacement. Strains, sprains, dislocations and broken bones are also treated by orthopedists. Specific procedures are done by orthopedic surgeons such as arthroplasty, arthroscopic surgery, fracture repair, traction, fasciotomy, and bone grafting, to name some of them. Different hospitals provide work for these orthopedists and incorporate them as part of the surgical team along with the surgical nurse and anesthesiologist. Before the orthopedic surgery is done, a choice of general, regional or local anesthesia could be used. A surgical team may compose of a solo practitioner or a group of two to six orthopedists.

The orthopedic surgeons’ job includes adding screws, wires, nails, pins, prosthetics and tongs inside the body. In this way, proper alignment of the skeleton is achieved and damaged bone or tissue is substituted. Enormous strides have been made with the introduction of recent devices such as artificial limb and joints with the availability of new materials used to restore damaged bones and connective tissue. Advancements in plastics and metal technology enable orthopedists to mimic the natural functions of bones, joints and ligaments and achieving greater accuracy in restoring damaged parts to their original range of motion.

Orthopedic surgeons make use of physical, medical and rehabilitative methods. In order for them to remove dead cartilage and other debris in the affected area, they often resort to laser surgery. If the fracture or dislocation is sports-related, these surgeons would elect to procedures such as shoulder arthroplasty when the fractured part is on the shoulder, or replacing the ball and socket joint for osteoarthritis.

Diagnosis and Preparation

Other doctors such as emergency doctors and primary care physicians may refer their patients to an orthopedic specialist, preferably a surgeon. They work alongside other healthcare teams that include family physicians and rheumatologists. Before the orthopedic surgery is done, candidates for the operation would have to a screening procedure to determine the appropriate procedures to be done. The procedure to be done greatly lies on the patient’s age, underlying orthopedic condition, physical health in general and the impact of joint disability to the patient’s daily activities of living. To ensure greatest function, the timing of the procedure must be crucial. Surgery should be performed before surrounding muscles become contracted and atrophied and the occurrence of serious structural abnormalities. The orthopedist makes a thorough evaluation of the client to ensure that the correct procedure is to be performed.

A series of diagnostic tests include X-ray, Computed Tomography Scans and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), along with series of blood tests for donor compatibility, diagnostic arthroplasty and myelograms. The history of the deformity together with the patient’s history of treatments is determined by the orthopedist. Allowing the affected area to rest prior to surgery may be carried out. Patients who will go through orthopedic surgery must also pass standard serum and urine tests prior to the operation, and may undergo electrocardiogram (ECG) and other necessary tests before the surgery commences. Patients scheduled for an operation may donate their own blood to make it as a reserve for major surgeries, since blood loss is common. It also minimizes the risk of blood transfusion reactions.