10 Questions You Must Ask the Orthopedic Doctor when Going Abroad for a Procedure
Choosing an operation or some other procedure for a chronic injury or a recently suffered one is a tough situation for the patient, as there are always a few options available. The problem is that you cannot instinctively know which procedure would suit your needs the best. This is the job of the doctor. However, you can increase the chances of getting things right by getting informed and asking questions of the doctor. While getting informed, you will also be able to make the right decision when choosing the doctor who will perform the procedure, as you will get to see whether s/he is trustworthy. The following questions are a must when considering an orthopedic procedure.
1. Why do you recommend this procedure over others?
As we already said, there are usually a number of solutions available for any orthopedic problem and not just one. Every specialist related to the injury will have their own considerations as to why a specific procedure and not some other will do the trick. The point is to have them explain their reasoning. Will some other medical condition affect the procedure? Is a specific procedure safer than others? Does it have a higher success rate? Be sure to go through this in detail. If the doctor refuses to go into details (although few of them would), then you should look for another doctor.
2. How experienced are you with the procedure?
If you are talking to the doctor who will perform the procedure, then you should definitely ask about their experiences with this procedure and how many times they have performed it before. If not, then ask about the doctor who will be performing. Experience is almost everything regarding orthopedic procedures (and most of other medical procedures, as well). The more experienced the doctor is, the more things they have seen before and will be able to deal with them.
3. Do you have Board Certification?
A doctor who is certified by that country’s relevant board should always be your first choice. Getting an official certificate requires rigorous training and studying and it also proves that the doctor has had the required experience. While it is also possible to find a good doctor without a certificate, it is just safer to go for one who has it, and the chances are higher that you won’t make a mistake which could create further problems down the road.
4. How much improvement can I expect from the procedure?
Not all medical conditions can be fully treated and their effects completely reversed. For some orthopedic conditions there are treatments which are supposed to make life with those conditions easier and the body more functional. You should consult with the doctor about the procedure and what both you and he/she think the result should be. Don’t immediately fall for the promises of full recovery. Better to be prepared than to be disappointed later.
5. What is the success rate of the procedure?
It is impossible to guarantee a 100% success rate for any medical procedure, not just orthopedic ones. Success of the procedure depends on many factors, including your own overall health and other medical conditions you may have. Make sure to get an honest answer from the doctor about how often the procedure has been successful before.
6. What risks are involved?
Every procedure carries some kind of risks with it. It could be complications with anesthesia, a poorly done procedure or some other completely unrelated problem. Be sure to hash out all the possibilities with the doctor before agreeing to a procedure, so that you can know whether the risks are worth the gains or not. The doctor should recommend taking another approach should the one you are considering prove to be too risky for you.
7. What type of anesthesia will be used?
If the procedure that you wish to do is a surgery, there is a high chance that some kind of anesthesia will be used. There are two types of anesthesia that can be used for an orthopedic surgery: general anesthesia (where the patient is “put to sleep” completely for the duration of the procedure) and local anesthesia (which can be epidural or peripheral). The type which will be administered depends on a few factors – the type of the procedure (some orthopedic procedures require general anesthesia), patient’s overall health, health conditions which might create problems with anesthesia, etc. It is important to check whether your health (like blood pressure and cardiovascular conditions) allow you to get a general anesthesia. If you would be at risk, then we suggest thinking of another procedure. But first, discuss this with the doctor or the anesthesiologist that will assist during the procedure.
8. Anything I need to do in preparation for the procedure?
Consult with your doctor about things such as which medications you should or shouldn’t take before the surgery, whether you should exercise or rest, and whether you should come to the hospital a day or two before the surgery for preparation. The doctor should give you all the information for a successful preparation.
9. Will I need therapy after the procedure?
Almost every type of orthopedic procedure demands physical therapy afterwards, during the recovery period. Physical therapy is important because it helps your muscles to stay sharp and regain the functionality that would be lost during the inactivity. This also goes for the joints that are affected. Also, physical therapy will show whether the procedure had worked and whether it has had any effect.
10. Do I need to arrange for any post-op care at home?
Procedures involving hips or joints can leave you immobile for some period after the procedure has been completed. It is wise to ask this of your doctor so that you could prepare for the eventuality that you might need help with doing basic things, such as preparing food, cleaning the house, administering medications, etc. If you live alone, some outside help would probably be warranted.
These questions for the orthopedic doctor are supposed to help you get informed about the procedure and whether or not you should do it. A good orthopedic doctor will provide extensive and honest answers to these questions. If you find a doctor who is not interested in answering them, then you should probably choose another one. Orthopedic procedures can have profound effects on your health and your life, and not always for the good. Because of this, do not hesitate to ask for a second or even third opinion somewhere else and compare the answers that you get. Only then will you be able to make an informed decision.
We can help you get informed and make a decision about an orthopedic procedure abroad, so do not hesitate to contact us!