Orthopedic surgery or orthopedics (alternatively spelled orthopaedic surgery and orthopaedics) is the branch of surgery concerned with conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, and congenital disorders.
Orthopedic (sometimes spelled orthopedic) surgery is an operation performed by a medical specialist such as an orthopedist or orthopedic surgeon, who is trained to assess and treat problems that develop in the bones, joints, and ligaments of the human body.
Orthopedic surgery addresses and attempts to correct problems that arise in the skeleton and its attachments, the ligaments and tendons. It may also include some problems of the nervous system, such as those that arise from injury of the spine. These problems can occur at birth, through injury, or as the result of aging. They may be acute, as in an accident or injury, or chronic, as in many problems related to aging.
The range of treatments provided by orthopedists is extensive. They include procedures such as traction , amputation , hand reconstruction, spinal fusion , and joint replacements. They also treat strains and sprains, broken bones, and dislocations. Some specific procedures performed by orthopedic surgeons are listed as separate entries in this book, including arthroplasty , arthroscopic surgery , bone grafting , fasciotomy , fracture repair , kneecap removal , and traction.
In general, orthopedists are employed by hospitals, medical centers, trauma centers, or free-standing surgical centers where they work closely with a surgical team , including an anesthesiologist and surgical nurse. Orthopedic surgery can be performed under general, regional, or local anesthesia.
Much of the work of an orthopedic surgeon involves adding foreign material to the body in the form of screws, wires, pins, tongs, and prosthetics to hold damaged bones in their proper alignment or to replace damaged bone or connective tissue. Great improvements have been made in the development of artificial limbs and joints, and in the materials available to repair damage to bones and connective tissue. As developments occur in the fields of metallurgy and plastics, changes will take place in orthopedic surgery that will allow surgeons to more nearly duplicate the natural functions of bones, joints, and ligaments, and to more accurately restore damaged parts to their original ranges of motion.
Persons are usually referred to an orthopedic surgeon by a primary care physician, emergency room physician, or other doctor. Prior to any surgery, candidates undergo extensive testing to determine appropriate corrective procedures. Tests may include x rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), myelograms, diagnostic arthroplasty, and blood tests. The orthopedist will determine the history of the disorder and any treatments that were previously tried. A period of rest to the injured part may be recommended before surgery is undertaken.
Surgical candidates undergo standard blood and urine tests before surgery and, for major procedures, may be given an electrocardiogram or other diagnostic tests prior to the operation. Individuals may choose to donate some of their own blood to be held in reserve for their use in major surgery such as knee replacement , during which heavy bleeding is common.