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Healthcare Leader: George J. Haidukewych, MD

Internationally recognized for joint replacement surgery and trauma, George J. Haidukewych, MD, serves as director of orthopedic trauma, chief of complex joint replacement, academic chairman for the Orthopedic Faculty Practice and professor at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. He trained at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Dr. Haidukewych specializes in total hip and total knee replacements as well as orthopedic trauma. He brings extensive experience in the management of failed and infected total hip and total knee replacements and in reconstruction of the joints after trauma.

In the Fall of 2017, Dr. Haidukewych was inducted into the International Hip Society, an exclusive association of joint surgeons from all over the globe that have demonstrated excellence in hip surgery. The society is comprised of top surgeons from various countries who specialize in hip replacement surgery. Dr. Haidukewych is the only Florida surgeon in the society.

Dr. Haidukewych is also an award-winning researcher who has published more than 100 peer reviewed publications and book chapters and has presented hundreds of educational lectures on trauma and hip and knee replacement. Dr. Haidukewych holds over 20 patents and has developed multiple innovative implants for fracture fixation and joint replacement. Dr. Haidukewych earned his medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. He was a resident in orthopedics at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota and then a fellow in orthopedic traumatology and post traumatic reconstruction at Florida Orthopedic Institute in Tampa, Florida.

In this month's In Other Words segment, Dr. Haidukewych discusses The Future of Joint Replacement: Getting Patients Back on Their Feet Faster.

In Other George J. Haidukewych, MD

Every time the next generation iPhone comes out, it's practically hailed as a national holiday. Hundreds of thousands of people stand in line just to be among the first to get their hands on the latest, greatest technology. And for good reason; each year, there's typically something new and exciting that makes our smart phone experience even better than it was the year before.

Believe it or not, rapid technological advancements are also changing the world of orthopedic surgery - and there's much to celebrate. Changes in major joint replacement procedures along with the increased use of new and improved materials are making our daily lives better than they were not so very long ago.

I performed my first joint replacement surgery more than 20 years ago. Since then, I've replaced joints in thousands of patients - and I've seen the technology improve dramatically. The artificial joints we used when I first started back in the 1990's look quite antiquated when you compare them to what we're using today. There are various new designs, including new materials - even ceramics - that are truly groundbreaking, and they're giving orthopedic patients new opportunities to live full and active lives with artificial joints that can potentially last them the rest of their lives.

Comparing today's artificial joints to the ones in the past is like comparing a new iPhone to an old rotary dial phone.

And the advancements go well-beyond just the technology. Replacement surgery is becoming more and more customized for each patient. During an initial consultation with a potential patient, they usually ask an important question about lifestyle: "Will I be able to do many of the things I've done in the past?" As an orthopedic doctor, I'm genuinely excited to be able to tell them "yes" -and to say it with enthusiasm.

As technologies, materials and surgical techniques have improved, we have also seen a trend in recent years toward younger orthopedic patients. These patients not only want to return to their pre-surgery activities, but they want to do so quickly. Because of improved surgical practices and less-invasive procedures, we've been able to cut the average hospital stay after a joint replacement surgery to one to two days. In fact, some patients are even able to have replacement surgery as an outpatient procedure - something unheard of just a few years ago.

Meanwhile, the need for hip and knee replacements is growing because Americans are literally growing too. Sadly, about one-third of our nation's population is clinically obese, and that is causing issues in the world of orthopedics - with increased wear and tear on overburdened joints. Before undertaking any replacement procedure with an obese patient, we always discuss overall health improvements, including weight loss, which can help shorten the recovery process, improve surgical outcomes and minimize complications. Sometimes, a patient may need to work with a weight loss specialist for several months before we even schedule a joint replacement surgery.

Joint replacement is a fast-growing and active field, which requires surgeons like myself to keep up on the latest trends, materials and state-of-the art techniques being used by orthopedic specialists around the world. I was recently invited to join both the North American and International branches of the International Hip Society. Each branch is an invitation-only group, made up of fewer than 100 of the best joint replacement surgeons from around the world.

My involvement in the society allows me to tap into the collective knowledge of orthopedic surgeons worldwide and bring it back to Central Florida where we can use it on behalf of local patients. This means we can have the best possible joint replacement patient care and outcomes right here at home. During a recent gathering of the Hip Society members, I was fascinated to learn how certain international surgical teams are treating infections differently than we do here in the United States, with demonstrable positive results. I also heard from my European colleagues about the implant registries they maintain in Europe as a way to track which implants work best. Having access to this kind of information and cutting-edge techniques makes me better as a surgeon and that's obviously good for my patients.

As a young medical student, I became enthralled with joint replacement surgery because of the ability of orthopedics to positively impact people's lives. Happily, I remain just as excited about working in orthopedics today. Whether I'm addressing a congenital knee issue, malformed hips, arthritis, or the impacts from a severe joint injury - it is extremely gratifying as a doctor to be able to help relieve people's pain and to get a patient literally and figuratively - back on their feet.

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