Most people will experience some type of ailment of the bones, joints, muscles, tendons or ligaments (also known as the musculoskeletal system) at some point in their lives - be it from an injury, overuse or a degenerative condition.
Orthopaedics is a branch of medicine that treats disorders of the musculoskeletal system. In general, orthopaedic treatments will first involve non-surgical interventions such as medicine and physical therapy. Should non-surgical treatments fail over a prolonged period of time, orthopaedic surgery might be an option to relieve pain and restore mobility to the affected bone, muscle, joint or ligament.
Orthopaedic surgery involves physically cutting into the body to remove, replace or repair damaged components of the musculoskeletal system. It can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, from sports injuries to congenital deformities, joint replacements, and degenerative diseases.
What Are The Speciality Areas of Orthopaedic Surgery?
There are so many conditions that can affect the musculoskeletal system that orthopaedic surgeons sometimes specialise in treating certain conditions or areas of the body. Surgeons also often work within multi-disciplinary support teams to ensure the success of treatment.
General orthopaedic surgeons treat a wide range of ailments, not focussing on a specific area. Localised specialities include foot and ankle, hip and knee, shoulder and elbow, hand, and spine orthopaedics.
Specialities also focus on the context of treatment. Pediatric orthopaedics involves the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions in children. Orthopaedic oncology involves the treatment of cancers of the bones, joints, muscles, tendons or ligaments. Sports medicine and trauma surgery involve treating injuries and overuse of the musculoskeletal system.
What Type of Technology Is Involved In Orthopaedic Surgery?
The research and technology involved in orthopaedic surgery are constantly improving. The advanced methods available to surgeons ensure that surgeries are as brief and minimally invasive as possible.
Modern imaging techniques such as MRI, CT scans and X-rays ensure that surgical teams have in-depth diagnostics at their disposal and can conduct comprehensive surgical preparation. They also have visibility during the surgery at all times. In cases where prosthetics are needed, modern imaging allows for the creation of digital replicas of body parts, which can be printed on a 3D printer and implanted, attached or placed during surgery.
An arthroscope is a thin tube with a tiny video camera and a light at the end. The tube is inserted into the body through a small incision and used to inspect the inside of a joint. An arthroscope is often used for visibility, but with advanced surgical methods, it may also be used in conjunction with specialised surgical tools to conduct the surgery.
The use of robotics, in conjunction with detailed imaging, allows for incredibly delicate incisions and drastically decreases the degree to which a surgery needs to be invasive. Advanced monitoring equipment also provides second-by-second information on patient health, and allows an incredible amount of reflexivity.
The use of electronic medical records (EMRs) and virtual care platforms is becoming increasingly important. These technologies not only help streamline administrative tasks but also provide more efficient patient care. Digitization also allows for better collaboration between treatment teams and improved communication with patients and funders. By leveraging these digital solutions, orthopaedic surgery departments have become more efficient and provide better care to their patients.
Benefits Of Orthopaedic Surgery
The specific benefits of orthopaedic surgery will depend on the context of the patient, their diagnosis and treatment plan. In general, however, orthopaedic surgery can relieve pain, increase mobility, change the appearance of an area of the body, improve circulation, improve posture, restore function to an affected area and remove diseased parts of the body.
Risks Of Orthopaedic Surgery
There are risks involved in all types of orthopaedic surgery, including wound infection, bleeding, nerve injury, blood vessel injury and deep vein thrombosis. Postoperative care for orthopaedic surgery also involves a commitment from the patient in terms of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and following the care team’s instructions in terms of exercises, medication and wound care.
Orthopaedic Surgery In A Nutshell
Orthopaedic surgery is ultimately a branch of medicine that focuses on improving function and reducing pain for patients with musculoskeletal conditions. There are many different specialities of orthopaedic surgery, focussing on different localised areas of the body or a specific type of treatment. Advanced technologies and methods allow surgeries to be precise and minimally invasive. The benefits associated with orthopaedic surgery can drastically improve the health and well-being of patients. As with all surgeries, there are risks involved in orthopaedic surgery, which can be minimised with attentive postoperative care.