Ten Questions to Ask Your Orthopaedic Surgeon Before Surgery

Are you looking for a great orthopaedic surgeon? Do you have an injury or issue that requires surgery? Whether you are just starting the process of finding the right orthopaedic surgeon or have found one that you like, there are several questions you might want to consider asking prior to having surgery.

No matter how minor or major your procedure seems, surgery is a big deal. Aside from the procedure itself, there are several factors to think about before taking the leap. When you meet with an orthopaedic surgeon, be sure to write down the questions you want to ask. Do not go into your surgery with unanswered questions or uncertainty.

Here are the top ten questions you should consider asking your orthopaedic surgeon before surgery:

  1. What insurance do you take? Even the top orthopaedic surgeon in your area isn’t going to be a perfect fit for you if they do not take your insurance plan. Some procedures can cost thousands of dollars. You need to be certain of your benefits and the coverage you have before settling with an orthopaedic surgeon.
  2. What will recovery look like? Depending on the type of surgery you are preparing to have, recovery can vary significantly. Do not make assumptions or rely strictly on internet searches to understand what your recovery will look like. Each individual is different. Factors like gender, age, weight and physical health can drastically impact the way your body heals. Ask your surgeon what you can expect starting on day one all the way through until you are fully recovered.
  3. What are your credentials? Information about a surgeon’s credentials should be readily available from their website. Some things to consider are researching the difference between a medical doctor (M.D.) and a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.).
  4. What is the success rate for this procedure? Don’t be afraid to ask about your surgeon’s past experience with your type of case. You want to make sure that your expectations are realistic.
  5. What is your experience with this specific type of surgery? Ask how many cases he or she has treated with this procedure. It is important that you feel comfortable with their experience level.
  6. What hospital or surgery center will you perform my surgery? Location might not seem like a big issue for some people. However, the facility itself can vary quite a bit. Is it close to your house? Will a surgery at a hospital mean a great risk of infection? Is there a greater likelihood of a delay at a hospital?
  7. Do you use any advanced technologies or innovative approaches to my specific condition? Simply knowing the number of cases treated is not enough to decide if this is the right surgeon for you. If a surgeon is using an old technique or approach as opposed to a newer, more innovative method, you might want to reconsider.
  8. Are there alternatives to surgery to treat my condition or issue? Orthopaedic surgeons do more than just operate. There are many non-surgical interventions to treat certain issues. Be sure to explore alternatives before making a final decision on your surgeon.
  9. What possible complications could arise from treatment? Be sure to ask the orthopaedic surgeon about both best case scenarios and any side effects or problems that could result.
  10. Are you fellowship trained in my specific area of need? Some orthopaedic surgeons complete residency and continue on to a fellowship program to further specialize in an area of expertise such as shoulder and elbow or foot and ankle. Some patients prefer to work with a surgeon that has received extra training with their condition or injury.

There are several other things to consider when looking for an orthopaedic surgeon. Click here to learn more.

16 replies
  1. Tomas Killington
    Tomas Killington says:

    My brother recently tore his ACL playing basketball. He’s looking for a good orthopedic surgeon that can help him get back on the court. I didn’t realize how important it is to choose a physician that uses advanced technology and approaches to ensure you are getting the most modern treatment. I’ll be sure to share this information with my brother.

  2. Kourtney Jensen
    Kourtney Jensen says:

    I like the questions you suggested asking, like if they have experience with the surgery you are going to have, because if they don’t, you might not feel as comfortable with them performing the surgery on you as well as they may not do it properly. I’ve had to have surgery and it brought me a lot of comfort knowing that my surgeon had performed thousands of surgeries prior to mine. From here on out, I’ll be sure to always ask any doctor about their experience to put my mind at ease during the stressful times.

  3. LNweaver
    LNweaver says:

    That makes a lot of sense to check which surgeons are in your insurance network. That way you’ll be able to make a shortlist of doctors you can afford. I’ve been having pains along my leg for a while now, so I think I’m going to use that tip to find a surgeon I can consult.

  4. Ernest London
    Ernest London says:

    I like that you mentioned to find out in advance what your recovery will be like. I am preparing for some orthopedic surgery to help me become active and healthy again. I would love to know how long I will be out of commission and what I need to do. I will be sure to ask about this as I get started on the process.

  5. Deb Pearl
    Deb Pearl says:

    My dad has to get orthopedic surgery soon and we need to find him a good surgeon for him. That is a good idea to ask them about their success rates for the procedure. That is a great way to see how well they can perform the surgery. Thank you for the tips!

  6. Ellie Davis
    Ellie Davis says:

    My husband broke his foot and is going to need surgery on it. Thank you for suggesting that we should make sure and ask our surgeon what his recovery is going to look like. Hopefully, I can find him the best surgeon possible to get him back on his feet again.

  7. Rosie Beckett
    Rosie Beckett says:

    My husband needs to get shoulder surgery and he needs to find an orthopedic surgeon in our area. I like that you say to first look for a surgeon who takes your insurance plan because this way we can have peace of mind that we won’t be paying extra money out of pocket. Also, when looking for a surgeon we will make sure to ask about their credentials because it would definitely give me peace of mind to find a doctor who is qualified and has done many successful surgeries that are similar to my husband’s in the past.

  8. Brad Erwin
    Brad Erwin says:

    Thanks for explaining the importance of an orthopedic surgeon that accepts the coverage your insurance company provides. My brother has been having problems with his shoulder and thinks it is time to visit an orthopedist. I will be sure to tell him that surgeries can be expensive and that he should ensure the doctor takes his insurance before going further.

  9. Megan Alder
    Megan Alder says:

    My husband´s father will need to get orthopedic surgery, and we are looking for advice to know how to choose the right doctor. You made a great point when you said we should ask for the doctor´s credentials and their success rate in this procedure. We will definitely follow your advice to ensure that we find the best doctor to get that procedure done.

  10. Eli Richardson
    Eli Richardson says:

    It’s great that you talked about asking a surgeon about their qualifications. Recently, one of my aunts mentioned she’s thinking of getting bunion surgery. She’s been dealing with foot issues for some time, so I think this article could help her surgeon search. Thanks for the advice on orthopedic surgery and what to ask when interviewing a surgeon.

  11. Jane Guff
    Jane Guff says:

    My mother recently fell and hurt her knee. We just found out it will need a total replacement, so we are trying to find a doctor that we can trust completely to do the surgery. I like the tip you gave of asking potential doctors what their success rate is for the specific surgery we are looking at. I think that will give us a great idea of if they will be the right one for my mom.

  12. John Carston
    John Carston says:

    It helped when you mentioned that surgery is a big deal no matter how minor or major your procedure seems. My cousin who is an athlete mentioned to me last night that his ankle injury is taking too long to heal and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to do. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that it will be much better if we consult trusted orthopedic anesthesiologists as they can answer all our inquiries and will provide the proper care for his ankle injury.

  13. Charlotte Fleet
    Charlotte Fleet says:

    My brother-in-law needs to find an orthopedic surgeon to perform his ACL surgery as soon as possible. Thanks for mentioning how it is important to check for the credentials of potential surgeons on their website. I’ll help my brother-in-law research online to find a reputable orthopedic surgeon that has their credentials available on their website so he can trust them.

  14. Iris Smith
    Iris Smith says:

    Thank you for mentioning that it is important to be sure to ask the orthopedic surgeon about both the best-case scenario and any potential side effects or issues. My grandmother experiences back pain. I’ll seek out an orthopedist to do unbiased medical assessments and consult with one about my grandmother’s case and any adverse effects.


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