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Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon do?

Surgeons working in Trauma and Orthopaedics – sometimes abbreviated to T&O – specialise in treating conditions of the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system includes the bones, joints and other structures, such as ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves, that work together to allow the body to move freely.

The trauma aspect of the role includes diagnosing and treating injuries to the musculoskeletal system, which may be a broken bone, a fracture or dislocation, or even a soft tissue injury. Injuries range from ‘low energy fractures’ such as those that are more often found in elderly patients, to multiple severe injuries, such as those that are caused by a road traffic accident. The other aspect of the role of a T&O Surgeon includes congenital conditions or degenerative conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, as well as related infections and tumours.


What are the most common procedures in Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery?

Joint arthroscopy is a very common procedure for a T&O Surgeon; it is a procedure which is performed in order to further investigate joint problems. Joint arthroscopy involves a thin telescope with a light – or arthroscope – being inserted into the joint through a small incision; the surgeon then searches for signs of arthritis or damage. Small surgical procedures can also be performed during a joint arthroscopy to repair any damage, such as removing torn ligaments, floating cartilage, and tissue that is causing inflammation and pain.

Bone fracture repair is another very common procedure. Fracture repair could include using metal screws, rods, pins and plates to hold a broken bone in place. The methods and techniques vary depending on the location, type and severity of the fracture, but all bone fracture repair aims to stabilise the break so that the bone may heal correctly.

Arthroplasty is a surgical procedure that replaces the entire joint, which is typically performed on patients whose joints have been damaged by either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Arthroplasty is most common in the hip and the knee joints.

Repairing damaged muscles and tendons makes up a large proportion of the work of the T&O Surgeon, which could be thanks to injury/trauma or to progressive deterioration of the tissue.

Finally, a T&O Surgeon will perform many corrective surgeries, such as kneecap realignment. These surgeries aim to correct issues of anatomical alignment, which, if left untreated, will limit movement and cause further problems for the patient in the future.


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