Orthopedic surgery refers to any surgical procedure performed on the musculoskeletal system, which includes muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and joints. There are different types of orthopedic surgeries. Today, traditional operations are losing ground to minimally-invasive arthroscopic procedures that come with less pain, faster recoveries, and fewer complications. Here are some of the most common orthopedic surgeries.
Joint Replacement Procedures
Joint replacement procedures involve replacing a damaged joint with a metal, plastic, or ceramic prosthetic. The prosthetic is specially designed to replicate the range of motion of a normal, healthy joint. Surgeries in this category are among the most commonly performed orthopedic procedures. Hip and knee replacements are extremely common joint replacement procedures. Recovery and rehabilitation differ from patient to patient. In general, patients are encouraged to start using their new joint shortly after the procedure, and exercise is an integral part of recovery. It’s essential to follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully during recovery for optimal results. Most patients can expect their prostheses to last for many years, allowing them to perform routine daily activities with less pain as well as improved strength and movement.
Revision Joint Surgery
If an existing prosthetic fails, it may be recommended to remove it and replace it with a new one. This scenario may occur because the patient has had the implant for many years and it has finally failed, or it may be that the patient received a defective implant in the first place (not common). As more and more people undergo joint replacement surgery, including younger patients, joint revision surgery is becoming more common. Several things can go wrong with a joint prosthetic, such as:
- Over time, friction can break away tiny particles of the implant and loosen the bonds between it and the bone. Loosening can cause pain and instability in the joint.
- Another thing that can happen to an implant is for it to become unaligned and “pop” out of place. This issue is most common in patients who have had hip replacement procedures.
- An infection near the replaced joint can cause enough swelling and pain that a revision is warranted. Thanks to accessible antibiotics and stringent hospital standards, the risk of infection severe enough to trigger a revision is minimal.
A spinal fusion is a surgery that connects two or more vertebrae, eliminating motion between them. This operation uses techniques that mimic the natural healing process of bones when they are broken. The surgeon places a material similar to bone (or actual bone) in the space between two vertebrae, using metal plates, rods, or screws to hold the vertebrae together and allow the site to heal into one solid unit. This procedure is most often done to correct deformities of the spine, address spinal instability or weakness, or repair a herniated disk. Following spinal fusion, patients generally will need to stay in the hospital for two or three days. After they return home, it may take up to several months for the area to heal entirely and fuse together. Physical therapy helps teach patients how to walk, stand, and sit in certain ways that help keep the spine aligned properly.
Another procedure that orthopedic surgeons perform is known as debridement. This procedure allows the surgeon to remove dead, infected, or contaminated tissue from the body to assist with healing. With the damaged tissue gone, the body is left with healthy tissue, speeding the healing process. It’s best to remove infected or damaged tissue following an injury or medical condition to avoid infection and other complications. Surgeons often perform debridement surgeries after infections or open fractures. When infection occurs in the body, perhaps as the result of a recent injury or surgery, it can spread to the soft tissue. When this happens, debridement is the only way to remove the infection. Infection can also lead to necrosis, again resulting in tissue that needs to be removed to allow for proper healing.
Soft Tissue Repair
Soft tissue repair is mostly aimed at repairing muscles, tendons, and ligaments to improve joint stability. Some common types of soft tissue repair include muscle repairs, tendon transfers, fasciotomies, ligament reconstructions, and cartilage repairs or resections. Surgeons perform many of these surgeries arthroscopically, with the patient able to return home the same day. Recovery and expected outcomes depend on many factors, such as the patient’s specific conditions, the type of procedure, the patient’s age and general health, and more.
Internal Fixation of Fractures
This type of orthopedic surgery involves placing fragments of bone together using screws, pins, or plates so that they can heal properly. It’s important to stabilize and support a broken bone until it has regained enough strength to handle the weight and movement of the body. Not that long ago, the only options were splints and casts to stabilize the broken bone externally. Advances in technology, including sterile surgical procedures lowered the considerable risk of infection, making it possible (and safe) for surgeons to stabilize broken bones internally. This approach allows for shorter hospital stays, faster recoveries, and better healing. Whether or not internal fixations is an option depends on factors such as the severity and location of the fracture and the patient’s medical status.
An osteotomy is one of many different types of operations that involve cutting and reshaping the bone. Osteotomies are often used to repair damaged joints or to lengthen or shorten a deformed bone that doesn’t line up properly. People of all ages and levels of health need osteotomies, including children. These procedures may be used to reshape the hip socket, straighten a kneecap, remove a piece of the spine to correct a problem such as swayback, align the jaw better, or remove a segment of bone from the big toe to keep it from jamming into the other toes. What you can expect during recovery depends on the type of surgery and other factors.
Dr Vivek P. Kushwaha, MD, performs a wide range of orthopedic surgeries to treat a variety of conditions and injuries. You can contact Dr Kushwaha here to ask a question or schedule a consultation.