image showing surgeons operating in theatre so be sure to ask your surgeon 5 questions before committing to any surgery

5 questions to ask your surgeon

Whichever surgeon you go with be sure to take these ‘ask your surgeon’ questions with you. Remember decent surgeons are not just capable technicians. They must have sound skill, knowledge, professionalism and judgement to perform their duty.


1.  Ask your surgeon how many of these operations have you done before?


Important for obvious reasons. Common procedures should be in the hundreds or thousands. Rare procedures should be in the 10s—if they are a subspecialist surgeon then the rare ones will be common for them.


2.  Which other surgeons ask you for a second opinion?


This is an important question. If other surgeons ask for their opinion then you can be reassured that they have good judgement.


3.  What implants do you use and do they perform well in the joint registry?


Total knee replacements are rated according to their performance. In the Orthopaedic Data Evaluation Panel system an ODEP 10A* is the highest rated implant. The number indicates how long the data has been collected. The letter indicates the strength of the data. The star indicates that it has been performing very well on the registry. If they are not using a 10A* rated implant then they may have a good reason why. They might be taking part in a clinical trial or your particular pathology doesn’t permit the use of usual implants.


4.  Who are your colleagues and where is your NHS commitment?


Unlike a job in the private sector, attaining an NHS job is a very competitive process. Working with other surgeons and training junior surgeons is the most important measure of surgeon quality. I would like to see that my surgeon works in the NHS or has worked in the NHS as a consultant.


5.  Where did you do your fellowships?


A fellowship is the final polishing of a surgeon. Its importance cannot be underestimated. This will give you an idea about the level of training that the surgeon has received. No fellowship means no surgery in my view.