Choosing the best orthopaedic surgeon

Choosing the right orthopaedic surgeon is a critical part of your care, and there are a number of things to consider when doing so. The right surgeon will thoroughly understand how to treat your specific case and make you feel heard and respected throughout your treatment journey.

Below are some tips and advice to help you find the right surgeon. You can also watch the video on this page to hear Dr Jonathan Cabot speak about what to consider when making the decision.

Consider the surgeon’s subspecialty training

In Australia, surgeons complete a generalised orthopaedic training program before beginning professional practice. Following advanced training, surgeons usually then go on to further subspecialise in their area of interest by undertaking a fellowship program.

Fellowships can vary from simple hospital visitations to intensive 12-month operative training programs. After this period of study, the surgeon becomes accredited by an official organisation to perform additional procedures. Many highly respected surgeons undertake additional fellowships or post-fellowship training.

For example, Dr Jonathan Cabot undertook an additional two years of international post-fellowship training before beginning his private practice in Adelaide. By studying under renowned surgeons at Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic in Ontario, Canada,  the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, England, he gained additional subspecialty training in hip replacement, knee replacement, and arthroscopic sports medicine. As a result, he is familiar with the latest techniques and technology in these areas.

Many surgeons provide their training information online, though they may have additional training to mention at an in-person appointment. Take the time to research your surgeon and, depending on the complexity of your condition, you may wish to find a surgeon who subspecialises in the area.

Enquire about experience

Particularly if your condition is complex, you may wish to seek out a surgeon who has considerable experience performing the specific procedure required. In addition to holding a subspecialty, some surgeons simply perform some surgeries more than others and are more experienced. As a result, they may help you achieve a better health outcome after your treatment.

Furthermore, not every type of condition or treatment holds a recognised subspecialty. If this is the case, a surgeon may advertise a ‘special interest’ in the area instead.

To affirm their capabilities, you may wish to ask how long your orthopaedic surgeon has been practicing for. You may also wish to ask how often a surgeon treats your specific condition or performs your specific procedure in a year. This can help reassure you that your surgeon understands the treatments you require. Most surgeons do not openly advertise this information, so it is an important question to ask during a consultation.

Get trusted recommendations and referrals

Having surgery is a major decision and can have long-lasting impacts on your health. Take the time to speak with friends and family, as well as your GP and other allied health professionals, to find the best orthopaedic surgeon for you. Their own experiences can help you make an informed decision.

When asking others about their experience with an orthopaedic surgeon, consider asking:

  • Did your surgeon take the time to understand your individual needs, lifestyle and goals?
  • Did your surgeon provide you with a range of treatment options including non-operative treatments?
  • Did your surgeon ask if you were happy with the postoperative care?
  • Did you get along well with your surgeon and feel that you could speak openly to them?

You can also check with your private health insurance provider to find a local orthopaedic surgeon who fits within your budget. Most insurers have a ‘find a provider’ section on their website to assist with this.

Ask about the surgeon’s wait times

Wait times for some orthopaedic surgery procedures can be extremely lengthy. Before committing to a surgeon, enquire about the expected wait times and likelihood of your procedure being pushed back.

You may also like to ask about how the surgeon manages their wait list and bookings. Some surgeons overbook with the expectation of cancellations, which can lead to backlogs if this does not occur. This may result in your procedure being postponed unexpectedly.

Surgeons such as Dr Jonathan Cabot keep tight control over their operative list to prevent overbooking. This ensures that your procedure can happen on time, reducing the amount of time for which you are in pain. It also makes sure you have the time you deserve to work with Dr Cabot individually to achieve your best possible surgical outcome.

The importance of a good rapport?

Being able to talk openly and comfortably with your surgeon is integral to having your best possible surgical outcome. It will allow you to openly express your symptoms and concerns, allowing them to be factored into your treatment .

No matter what, your orthopaedic surgeon should never make you feel like a number or rush you to make a decision. The right orthopaedic surgeon will talk you through all available options – including nonsurgical treatments – and let you come to a fully informed decision before beginning any treatment. They will often provide you with information and advise you to revisit after you have had time to think.

Ask for a second opinion

Remember that seeing a surgeon for a surgical consultation does not mean that you need to have the procedure done by them. If you feel that your surgeon has not made the right decision or that you are not being heard, you can always request a referral to another surgeon for a second opinion.

Additionally, you do not need to take your referral to the surgeon named on the letter. If you want treatment from another orthopaedic surgeon, you can take the referral to them instead.

Dr Jonathan Cabot offers orthopaedic consultations from rooms across Adelaide. For more information about his services or to book an appointment, contact his rooms on (08) 8267 8228.