Facing orthopedic surgery? Here's what to ask

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A blood pressure monitor (Credit: Bloomberg/George Frey)

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Patients planning surgery to repair ailing knees, hips and shoulders need a recovery strategy and a good orthopedic surgeon who can tell them what to expect.

"The doctor should explain the success rate for the procedure, what kind of pain relief you'll get, will the pain return, will your strength return," said Dr. Charles Ruotolo, chairman of the orthopedic department at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Ruotolo said patients need to know whether postoperative physical therapy will be necessary and whether it should be done at home or in a rehabilitation facility.


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Surgeons should also explain the success rate for orthopedic procedures, Ruotolo said, and whether patients can expect to resume all normal activities.

"If you play baseball, you need to know if you can never throw a ball again," Ruotolo said. "If a doctor walks in a room and just says you need surgery, you have to wonder how he formulates that opinion."

Dr. Michael Carroll, an orthopedic surgeon at New Island Hospital in Bethpage, agreed. "The surgeon knows what the pros and cons of any surgery is, and you have to relate that to the patient," Carroll said.

Before hip replacement, for example, a surgeon should explain what kind of artificial hip will be implanted and why. And, Carroll said, it's helpful to use joint models when explaining surgery to patients.

A patient also should also for experience in a specific procedure, said Dr. Brian McGinley, a surgeon specializing in sports medicine and joint replacement at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson. A patient seeking shoulder surgery should find a surgeon experienced in that specialty - not someone who mostly does knee replacements.

"You need to know how many procedures they've done," McGinley said. "If you've only crocheted one sweater, you're going to be OK at it but not as good as at your hundredth."

Surgeons also should tell patients when they can expect to return to work or resume playing a sport, McGinley said. And he advises patients to bring a friend or relative along to consultations - one might pick up what the other misses. He also suggests a second consultation shortly before surgery to make sure the patient understands what will happen.

Dr. Stanley Asnis, orthopedics chairman for North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, says orthopedic surgery should be part of a team approach, which can help avoid complications.

For example, heart patients should visit their cardiologists to discuss the risks of surgery. And the cardiologist should consult with the surgeon.

"They should go to an orthopedist who listens to them and someone who they feel communicates with them," Asnis said. "He should tell them the risks or problems that can be a complication of surgery."

LONG ISLAND'S TOP DOCTORS

LI doctors selected by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. To find all 800 top LI doctors, with complete information on hospital affiliations, board status and medical education, go to newsday.com /topdoctors.

ORTHOPEDIC SURGERY

Dr. Scott Alpert,

33 Walt Whitman Rd.,

Huntington Station; 631-423-4090

Dr. Glenn Douglas Arvan,

661 Deer Park Ave.,

Babylon; 631-661-0202

Dr. David Dines,

935 Northern Blvd.,

Great Neck; 516-482-1037

Dr. David Gazzaniga,

Pro Healthcare Associates,

2800 Marcus Ave,

New Hyde Park; 516-622-6040

Dr. Craig Levitz,

36 Lincoln Ave,

Rockville Centre; 516-536-2800

Dr. Ronald Lewis,

Winthrop Orthopaedic Associates,

120 Mineola Blvd.,

Mineola; 516-873-8341

NEUROLOGICAL SURGERY

Dr. Jeffrey Brown,

600 Northern Blvd.,

Great Neck; 516-478-0008

Dr. Raphael Davis,

24 Research Way,

East Setauket; 631-444-1213

Dr. Nancy Epstein,

410 Lakeville Rd.,

New Hyde Park; 516-354-3401

Dr. Thomas Milhorat,

North Shore University Hospital,

300 Community Dr.,

Manhasset; 516-562-3020

NEUROLOGY

Dr. Richard Blanck,

1000 Northern Blvd.,

Great Neck; 516-466-4700

Dr. Alan Ettinger,

Long Island Jewish

Medical Center,

270-05 76th Ave.,

New Hyde Park; 718-470-7310

Dr. Daniel Cohen,

370 E. Main St.,

Bay Shore; 631-666-4767

Dr. Patricia Coyle,

179 Bellemeade Rd.,

East Setauket; 631-444-2599

Dr. Marc Gordon,

Long Island Jewish

Medical Center,

270-05 76th Ave.,

New Hyde Park; 718-470-7366

Dr. Ronald Kanner,

Long Island Jewish Medical Center,

270-05 76th Ave.,

New Hyde Park; 718-470-7311

Dr. Roger Kula,

865 Northern Blvd.,

Great Neck; 516-570-4400

PAIN MEDICINE

Dr. Carole Agin,

Pain Management Center,

Stony Brook University

Medical Center,

Stony Brook; 631-638-0800

Dr. Herschel Kotkes,

45 Weyant Ave.,

Cedarhurst; 516-295-2830

Dr. Philippe Vaillancourt,

877 E. Main St.,

Riverhead; 631-727-0660

Dr. Steven Pinsky,

176 N. Village Ave.,

Rockville Centre, 516-764-4875

RHEUMATOLOGY

Dr. Ronald Bennett,

7 Medical Dr.,

Port Jefferson Station;

631-928-4885

Dr. Steven Carsons,

120 Mineola Blvd.,

Mineola; 516-663-2097

Dr. Max Hamburger,

1895 Walt Whitman Rd.,

Melville; 631-249-9525

Dr. Alan Kaell,

315 Middle Country Rd.,

Smithtown; 631-360-7778

Dr. Esther Lipstein-Kresch,

2 Pro Health Plaza,

Lake Success; 516-622-6090

Dr. Karen Schorn,

124 Main St.,

Huntington; 631-385-5030

HAND SURGERY

Dr. Lawrence Hurst,

Stony Brook University Medical Center,

100 Nichols Rd.,

East Setauket; 631-444-3145

Dr. Lewis Lane,

600 Northern Blvd.,

Great Neck; 516-627-8717

Dr. Glenn Teplitz,

Winthrop Orthopaedic Associates,

120 Mineola Blvd.,

Mineola; 516-747-8900

SPORTS MEDICINE

Dr. Stuart Hershon,

333 E. Shore Rd.,

Manhasset; 516-466-3351

Dr. Stephen Kottmeier,

14 Technology Dr.,

East Setauket; 631-444-4233

Dr. Eric Putterman,

651 Old Country Rd.,

Plainview; 516-681-8822

SURGERY

Dr. Erna Busch-Devereaux,

152 E. Main St.,

Huntington; 631-423-1414

Dr. Shawn Garber,

3003 New Hyde Park Rd.,

New Hyde Park; 516-616-5500

Dr. Gary Gecelter,

Long Island Jewish Medical Center,

270-05 76th Ave.,

New Hyde Park; 718-470-7389

Dr. Douglas Held,

1300 Union Tpke.,

New Hyde Park; 516-488-2743

Dr. Brian O'Hea,

Stony Brook University Medical Center; 631-444-1795

Dr. Lisa Sclafani,

Memorial Sloan-Kettering at Suffolk,

650 Commack Rd.,

Commack; 631-623-4050

How they were picked

Is there a doctor in the house? Plenty of them. And good ones, too. A new Newsday site, newsday.com/topdoctors, helps Long Island consumers choose physicians in a variety of medical specialties.

There are 800 MDs in Nassau and Suffolk identified as top doctors by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., a Manhattan publisher of consumer guides to doctors across the country. Consumers also can search Newsday's Web site for an additional 4,600 top doctors from the tristate area and across the country, at places such as the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore.

Doctors do not and cannot pay to be selected as a Castle Connolly doctor.

The company begins its evaluation process by inviting a pool of randomly selected board-certified physicians to nominate other doctors in various specialties and subspecialties on a regional and national basis. Hospital officials are also invited to nominate. Additionally, phone interviews are conducted with leading medical experts to verify the accuracy of the information-gathering process.

Doctors selected for this list are asked to submit biographical information. Castle Connolly considers various factors, including excellence in academic medicine and research, education, superior patient care, disciplinary history, professional reputation and board certification; it also verifies credentials.

The list aims to reflect a reasonable balance of medical specialties and hospitals within Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Newsday is not involved in the selection of top doctors.

To see the whole list . . .

Who else is on the list of

Top Doctors? There are more than 6,000 listings in the New York Metro Area edition of "Top Doctors," published by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. The soft-cover list price is $24.95. For more information, go to castleconnolly.com, or call 800-399-DOCS.

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