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Why You Should Get a 2nd Opinion before Undergoing Orthopedic Surgery
Why You Should Get a 2<sup>nd</sup> Opinion before Undergoing Orthopedic Surgery

Author: Amit Momaya, MD
Published on: 7/21/2023

When you go shopping for a new house, you rarely stop looking after the first house you see. Most individuals will tour multiple houses before settling on which one to purchase. This makes sense, as you wish to see and understand all your options. However, many patients often rely on their local orthopedic surgeon for treatment recommendation after a joint or bone injury. They often google “orthopedic doctor near me.” Although this may result in a satisfactory outcome, you may want to consider seeking a 2nd opinion before settling on a treatment plan.

As a busy sports medicine surgeon at a large academic hospital, I see several patients a month who are seeking a 2nd opinion. Many of these patients are surprised to find alternative options for their joint issue. For example, I recently had a patient with a meniscal tear who was told it needed to be cut out. After reviewing the xrays, MRI, and the patient’s fitness goals, I recommended a meniscal repair instead in order to preserve their knee joint and decrease the chance of early arthritis. The patient agreed and had a successful outcome, returning to cross fit activities.

In other situations, I will see patients who have already undergone surgery by an outside surgeon but continue to have joint issues. This is a tough situation as sometimes the issue can be addressed with a revision surgery, but often times there have been irreversible changes performed on the joint and the native anatomy is difficult to restore.

The benefits of a 2nd opinion are easily demonstrated above. There are, of course, some downsides to a 2nd opinion. Patients often have busy schedules, and it may difficult to juggle everything else going on in life with another doctor’s visit. Furthermore, if one wishes to seek a 2nd opinion at an academic hospital, securing an appointment in a timely fashion may prove difficult. My practice offers a streamlined method for patients to request an appointment online, and patients are typically seen within a few days rather than waiting weeks or months. Finally, a 2nd opinion may make your diagnosis and treatment plans confusing, especially if the 2nd opinion conflicts with your first one. In these cases, I usually provide the patient with evidence based material to read that explains my thought process. Never hesitate to ask your surgeon for research that supports their decision.

Here are some tips for getting a second opinion:

  • Choose a doctor who is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. This means that the doctor has met the rigorous standards set by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.
  • Ask your doctor for a referral to a second opinion. Your doctor may be able to recommend a qualified orthopedic surgeon who can give you a second opinion.
  • Do your own research. Once you have a few names of potential doctors, you can do some research to learn more about them. You can read online reviews, check their credentials, and see if they are affiliated with any hospitals or medical centers.
  • Schedule an appointment with the second opinion doctor. When you meet with the second opinion doctor, be sure to bring all of your medical records with you. This will help the doctor to get a complete picture of your condition and to give you the best possible advice.

Getting a second opinion is an important step in making an informed decision about your health. If you are considering orthopedic surgery, be sure to talk to your doctor about getting a second opinion.