What are the Different Kinds of Orthopedic Surgical Procedures?

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  • Written By: Melanie Smeltzer
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2019
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Orthopedic surgery concentrates on a vast array of procedures involving the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgical procedures range from general maintenance to treatment of serious injuries to everything from the shoulders to the hands, the hips to the knees. They are also used to treat painful conditions such as arthritis, carpel tunnel syndrome, and avascular necrosis, or the decay and collapse of bone tissue resulting from a permanent or prolonged loss of blood supply to the bone.

Some of the most common orthopedic surgical procedures focus on the knees. When conservative orthopedic treatments fail, a procedure called lateral release — a cutting of the lateral ligaments to allow the kneecap to move normally — is often used to help heal the effects of runner's knee or a dislocation. A knee replacement resulting from extreme injury, bone loss or age also is quite common. This procedure involves resurfacing damaged bone tissue, then replacing it with new components. Other knee-related orthopedic surgery can include arthroscopies, and excision or drainage of Baker's cysts and bursa.

Hip replacement is fairly prevalent in orthopedic surgical procedures, and there are several options available. Traditional hip replacement surgery removes damaged bone and cartilage from the hip and replaces them with synthetic materials. An alternative to this is the anterior approach, which is said to help spare much of the non-damaged tissue while also being less invasive. Procedures to correct hip dysplasia, or repair a bone fracture or torn muscle are also quite common.


Orthopedic spine surgery is usually performed as a result of specific conditions, but may also be done as a result of general aging or injury. Much of the orthopedic surgery performed for the spine is done to help relieve pressure. These procedures may include a discectomy, which is the removal of a portion of the disc; a laminectomy, which removes a portion of the lamina and may include a spinal fusion; and a foramenotomy, a procedure that removes bone and other tissues that may be pinching nerves.

As of 2010, a large number of orthopedic surgical procedures focus on arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome. Carpel tunnel syndrome, which commonly refers to a pinched nerve in the wrist, is sometimes surgically treated by placing a small incision on the palm and opening the carpel tunnel to help ease pressure from the nerve. This procedure may also be done endoscopically through a smaller incision in the wrist. Orthopedic surgery for arthritis may be done on any joint that is afflicted and may consist of an arthroscopy, arthroplasty, synovectomy, osteotomy or a total joint replacement.


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