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Common Procedures and Current Challenges in Orthopedic Surgery

An aging population means an increase in orthopedic patients, with data suggesting that there will be a record 6.6 million orthopedic surgeries occurring annually by 2020. Today, orthopedic issues are the most common reason people seek medical care, with one in seven Americans reporting an orthopedic impairment. And while there have been significant advancements in the medical field over the years, there was little of this revolutionary spirit to be found in the field of orthopedics until recently.

Here’s a closer look at the complex and innovative practice of orthopedic surgery—and how a lack of time is affecting the surgeons themselves.


According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), full-time practicing orthopedic surgeons perform an average of 32 orthopedic procedures each month—the equivalent of more than one surgery per day (and this assumes surgeons are on seven days per week). According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the most common orthopedic surgical procedures are as follows:

  1. Arthroscopy. This surgical procedure is used to visualize, diagnose, and treat problems inside a joint. It’s performed by making a small incision in the skin and inserting small instruments containing a small lens and lighting system, allowing surgeons to get a magnified look at the joint’s interior on a monitor.
  2. Soft tissue repair. Consisting of regeneration and repair, this surgery involves replacing destroyed tissue by living tissue in the body. 
  3. Joint replacement. This surgical procedure replaces parts of an arthritic or damaged joint with a metal, plastic, or ceramic device called a prosthesis. The prosthesis is designed to replicate the movement of a normal, healthy joint.
  4. Revision joint surgery. Over time a prosthesis may begin to fail, causing the patient’s joint to become painful and swollen. In this surgical procedure, some or all of the original prosthesis is replaced with new ones.
  5. Bone fracture repair. Depending on the location, type, and severity of a break, surgeons will repair the fracture using metal plates, screws or pins.
  6. Debridement. This surgical procedure involves removing damaged or dead soft tissue to allow for better healing.
  7. Fusion surgery. When a patient is having severe joint or arthritis pain, a surgeon may opt for this procedure, which “welds” together two bones to become one, lessening pain and creating more stability within the aching area. 
  8. Osteotomy. This surgical procedure cuts and reshapes deformed bones, repairs damaged joints, and shortens or lengthens bones that don’t line up correctly.  

When grouped by areas of the body, the most common procedures revolve around the ankle, knee, hip, wrist, shoulder, spine, and other bones.


Orthopedic surgeons report spending an average of 86% percent of their time in clinical practice, which includes office, surgical, and patient rounds. The remainder of their time is spent performing administrative tasks (7%), teaching (4%), research (2%), and other related activities (2%). Then, there are those orthopedic surgeons who simply can’t find time for these activities; over 15% of those surveyed report spending 100% of their time in clinical practice.


In a survey of over 150 orthopedic surgeons, the “desire for personal development including interesting challenges and new opportunities” took priority over financial gain. So, it’s no surprise that most surgeons give their all to the profession and their patients, sometimes to the detriment to their own health. With the number of surgeries increasing each year and the demand for orthopedic surgeons’ time growing, it’s no surprise that some report feeling burned out. A recent study of members of the American College of Surgeons reveals that 40% of responding surgeons screened positively for burnout, 30% screened positively for depression, and that the incidence of burnout has been increasing across all medical specialties.  

Unfortunately, these levels of burnout correlate with personal and professional setbacks. Burned-out surgeons are more likely to experience physical and emotional illness, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, male infertility, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and elevated rates of substance abuse. Professionally, these levels have also been shown to affect performance, decreasing the quality of medical care and increasing the risk of surgical error.

To learn more, read our story How to Combat Burnout in the Medical Field, featuring Dr. Dan Diamond’s story of how he went from being physically and emotionally exhausted to re-embracing his passion for the medical profession.


According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, some of the complaints patients have following an orthopedic surgeon include reopening of the surgical site (wound dehiscence), procedure-related perforations and lacerations, and wound infection. This has even led to a new arm of medical negligence, “stitching claims.” Mistreatment.com describes these claims as “Failure to effectively stitch or seal a surgical wound.” The site states that these errors may lead to serious complications such as infection, unnecessary pain and discomfort, secondary surgery to correct the stitching, and scarring. Some improper suturing methods, which we cover in our story, What Causes Surgical Wound Dehiscence, include:

  • Using an inappropriate knot
  • Tying knots too loose or too tight
  • Using an inappropriate suturing material
  • Improper placement of sutures
  • Early removal of sutures
  • Suturing when foreign objects are present

So wouldn’t it be great if there was an easy way to reduce negligence claims associated with stitching, while adding valuable time back into surgeons’ days?


Designed for speed and ease of use, BandGrip is a 3.5”x1.5” bandage that offers a non-invasive method of wound closure without the use of needles or staples. Simple and intuitive, the bandage can be applied by a wide range of healthcare professionals without the involvement of the orthopedic surgeon. BandGrip uses non-invasive micro-anchors that grip the skin gently and securely to pull wound edges together, and reduce wound closure time by more than 30%. In addition, scarring is less pronounced, leaving patients more satisfied with the results of their procedure.


Despite being relatively new, BandGrip has already partnered with OrthoIndy, an Indianapolis-based orthopedic practice with 10 locations and over 70 physicians—it's also one of the most highly-respected practices in the midwest. “It’s simply faster to close patient surgical skin incisions using BandGrip than traditional sutures or staples,” says Orthopedic Surgeon and Knee Preservation Specialist Jack Farr, M.D., director of the OrthoIndy Knee Preservation and Cartilage Restoration Center. For more from Dr. Farr, check out his story The Importance of Just Right Wound Closure

BandGrip has also been recognized as a "Top 10 Orthopedic Solution Provider" of 2019 by MedTech Outlook, an industry magazine committed to covering the trends, challenges, and solutions that impact the healthcare and medical device sectors. 

To learn more about how BandGrip works, watch the video below or contact us today to receive a free sample.

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