“I can handle it. I can handle anything.” These were the simple, familiar words that Dr. Arthur Hess heard over and over again in the trauma bays of the Harvard hospitals where he was a young resident. This is the trauma surgeon’s mantra. It is a reminder that a trauma surgeon’s training is so broad and comprehensive that, regardless of the severity of the injury, no patient should lose hope. And these words of hope are what inspired Dr. Hess to pursue a career in orthopaedic trauma surgery. So when, on an unassuming April afternoon, he was called into the hospital to treat victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, he knew he was equipped to provide the best care, but he hardly thought that day would change how he looked at his patients, their injuries and his approach to returning them to pre-injury status.
Orthopedic Trauma and Positive Patient Outcomes
Trauma, the treatment of critical and complex injuries, was always an interest. But these patients helped Dr. Hess understand that the same injury can require a different treatment based on the patient’s goals and activity level before an injury. For a runner who wanted more than just a minimally functioning foot, an amputation and prosthesis would have had them running again in only a few months. For other patients with different goals, successful outcomes were achieved through reconstruction over a longer period. Collectively, these patients reinforced the understanding that positive outcomes occur most frequently when individual goals meet collaborative, streamlined treatments.
Following residency training, Dr. Hess went on to complete a fellowship at the prestigious R. Adams Crowley Shock Trauma Center, where he was trained in the surgical treatment of orthopaedic injuries all over the body. This broad and thorough training allows Dr. Hess to offer his patients the most current and innovative care in elective and trauma procedures.
Cutting Edge Hip Procedure in Louisiana
Dr. Hess is trained in several cutting-edge procedures previously not offered in Louisiana. Currently, he is the only surgeon in Louisiana trained to perform the periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) in both adult and pediatric patients. PAO treats hip dysplasia, a condition that occurs when the hip socket is too shallow to support the hip ball. The procedure preserves the existing hip joint while improving functionality, lessening symptoms such as pain, and eliminating or delaying the need for a total hip replacement.
Expert in Fractures of the Upper and Lower Extremities
Dr. Hess is also an expert in complex fractures of the upper and lower extremities and the pelvis. He is a leader in limb salvage and employs revolutionary techniques to preserve limbs and fingers following traumatic injuries.
Through his elective joint replacement practice, Dr. Hess offers the innovative direct anterior hip replacement, often referred to as the “outpatient total hip,” because patients are up and walking around within 24 hours of surgery and back to most normal activities within two weeks of surgery. By accessing the hip from the front, rather than the side, he can skillfully replace the joint with a smaller incision and less disruption to the surrounding tissues.
"Nothing makes me happier," he muses, "than watching a patient walk or, in more than one case, dance their way back into my clinic when only two weeks earlier they were completely reliant on a wheelchair or crutches. It is absolutely why I do what I do." Indeed, they are a reminder that his training and experiences at both Harvard and Shock Trauma have armed him with the tools required to understand the subjectivity of patient goals and work collaboratively to achieve those goals.