Saturday, January 29, 2011

Is Your Orthopedic Surgeon Qualified to Perform Joint Replacements?

According to the Mayo Clinic, a serious risk of the joint replacement or even orthopedic surgery to repair a fracture is osteomyelitis (bone infection).

Staphylococcus bacteria, a type of germ commonly found on the skin or in the nose of even healthy individuals.  The germs can enter a bone in a variety of ways, including . . . direct contamination through orthopedic surgery
Please make certain that your orthopedic surgeon know how to prevent, diagnose and treat osteomyelitis. It is basic orthopedics 101.

If I had any remote idea that Duke Orthopedics did not include "osteomyelitis" on their list of "what Duke Orthopedics can do for you," I never would have taken my dad or myself to Duke Orthopedics for treatment of this disease.

Although scanned and safely in my computer, I cannot place the current scanned version of Duke Orthopedics's list of their competencies (specifically omitting "osteomyelitis").  I save that copy for a more appropriate venue.  

Rather at this point, I share the link to "Duke Orthopedics: Patient care Services"
Note page 3 of Duke Orthopedics's stated competencies:

Occupational therapy (joint replacements)
Orthopaedic cancer 
Orthopaedic trauma treatments 
Orthopaedics (general)


The space between "orthopedics (general)" and "orthotics osteonecrosis" is obvious and inconsistent with the formatting of the orthopedics conditions list.  It appears that Duke University Orthopedics removed osteomyelitis from its list of "conditions the Duke Orthopedic Surgeons can treat."

In stark contrast to Duke Orthopedics' admitted lack of competency in the field of bone infections (osteomyelitis), the pre-eminent work "Duke Orthopedic Presents - Wheeless' Textbook of Orthopedics" discusses Osteomyelitis in depth. (Last updated by Clifford R. Wheeless, III, MD on Monday, September 6, 2010 3:09 pm)  My surgery was on September 13, 2010 at about 3:00 pm.


1.  Prior to undergoing a joint replacement or any orthopedic surgery that requires your having metal (including screws or nails) placed in the bone, check the medical facilities web-site.  If there is no orthopedic surgeon with specific experience or knowledge relating to osteomyelitis than you must ask reasonable questions.  

Make certain that that surgeon feels comfortable with the field of bone infections or has a colleague who would be able to address the issue.  

2.  Please communicate with your orthopedic surgeon and discuss his views of a team approach to bone infections.  Many orthopedic surgeons do not want to involve plastic surgeons and consider infectious disease specialists as a separate issue.  Generally, it is best if the three specialties work as a team.

Protect yourself.  Infections are unnecessary,  Bone infections are insidious and can be hospital borne.

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