Practical tips to help you evaluate surgeons

Inspired by a Brighton, Utah, ski patroller with two artificial knees, I buckled down and researched the knee replacement process. I soon felt like I had a PhD on the subject. I’m glad I did the homework. It charted my course.

Make a list. From my research, I generated 20 questions to ask potential surgeons. [Editor Note: You can download Harriet’s Knee Replacement Questions here.] I typed the list, printed five copies, and took a sheet with me to each of the five knee surgeons I interviewed. The list allowed me to ask the same questions, and I had space to write down

Harriet waits to interview a surgeon amidst clear evidence of sport-orientation. Credit: Harriet Wallis
Harriet waits to interview a surgeon amidst clear evidence of sports orientation.
Credit: Harriet Wallis

their answers. In addition, I could evaluate their answers later without forgetting what each one said.

I literally interviewed them while they examined my knees. It might sound ludicrous to interview five doctors, but why not? They’re my knees.

And their answers were amazingly different.

The visits were worth it. I evaluated the surgeon’s differences and choose the right one for me.

Use your radar. When you go to an appointment, look around the waiting room. Does anyone there look athletic? Or does everyone look fat, old and sedentary? It could be a clue for you.

Check the doc’s girth. Does an obese doctor understand an active life style? Will a fat doc comprehend how you want to use your new knees and that you want to ski?

Consider the alternatives. I bet you know at least one person with a replacement body part: a hip, knee or shoulder. But replacement might not be right for you. Be open to doctors’ recommendations to try another solution first.

I’ve heard many people say: “My knee really hurts. I want to have it replaced.” Replacement is not a magic bullet. And it is a major and irreversible action. You need to be sure that replacement is the right solution.

Editor’s Note: This is a 5 part series in which SeniorsSkiing’s correspondent Harriet Wallis describes her knee replacement journey with tips to guide you if you’re anticipating knee replacement. Part 1: Inspired by a ski patroller with artificial knees. Part 2: Research 101 – why and how to do it.  Upcoming Part 4: How I found the right doctor for me. Part 5: Rehab and why to love it.

One Comment

  1. Ben Granatek says:


    Is it you?



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