By: 2 November 2021
Surgeon in Focus – Mark T Kolich

Dr Kolich is a fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon specialising in outpatient total joints, including minimally invasive anterior approach total hips, less invasive total knees, partial knee replacements, knee arthroscopy, and complex hip and knee revision cases. He has recently joined the OrthoNeuro practice in Columbus Ohio, USA.


OPN: What drove you to choose surgery as a career – and orthopaedic surgery in particular?

MK: I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of working in the operating room ever since I was young. Both of my parents were in the medical field and I always found it intriguing as they would discuss events from their day in the hospital. I loved science and have always been the hands-on type of person. Surgery as a career provided me the opportunity to blend both of those interests into one career. In terms of specialty, after I had the chance to observe an orthopaedic surgeon in the operating theatre during a total knee arthroplasty I was blown away and knew immediately that’s what I wanted to do with my life.


OPN: It is clear that the healthcare industry has been greatly impacted by the past year’s events, what has been the greatest impact for you within the orthopaedic industry?

MK: As an orthopaedic surgeon I consider myself lucky to be in the position in which I was able to retain and continue performing my job during that time. Many of our colleagues were asked to perform different roles in the healthcare system in our desperate time of need. I think that we’ve done an excellent job since elective surgeries have resumed in supporting the need of backlogged patients that were denied elective hip and knee surgery during the pandemic.


OPN: What’s the best part of your job?

MK: It’s still the days that I am able to spend in the operating room and interacting with the patients and staff. I feel as though I have still retained that same passion, positive energy, and  curiosity for the operating room as I did when I was younger.


OPN: … and the worst?

MK: Hopefully this will be coming to an end soon but the endless zoom calls in which we had to utilise during the pandemic.


OPN: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

MK: There have been a number of highlights along the way with such a long road to achieving my ultimate goal of becoming a Fellowship Trained orthopaedic hip and knee surgeon. I was blessed to be able to share these accomplishments with my family and friends. Without a doubt,  a highlight was also seeing my research in hip and knee arthroplasty receive major journal recognition and my publications change the way surgeons made decisions treating patients in their practice.


OPN: Tell us more about the advances made in hip and knee arthroplasty at OrthoNeuro’s joints division?

MK: The advances made in hip and knee arthroplasty through OrthoNeuro‘s joints division have come from strong leadership within the division and their passion for hip and knee arthroplasty. That passion is facilitated by a dedication to learning and research to ensure we are utilising the  most up to date evidence based care. Ultimately, this results in optimised patient outcomes. We have changed our practice to begin using rapid recovery protocols, robotics, and minimally invasive techniques to get our patients up and out of bed as quickly and as safely as possible. Overall, the division has the same end goal of returning our patients home so they can continue living their best quality of life possible.


OPN: What would this mean for patient outcome and satisfaction?

MK: Since the utilisation of our rapid recovery protocols, minimally invasive approaches, and therapy protocols our patients are now routinely being performed on an outpatient basis. Patients are able to recover faster and go home the day of surgery with the ability to rehab from the comfort of their own home. This has resulted in a dramatic improvement in patient outcomes in the early phases and overall experience.


OPN: Are you planning to attend any orthopaedic events this year?

MK: Yes. I plan on attending the American Academy of hip and knee surgeons parentheses (AAHKS) in November of this year. This is an event with the latest and greatest developments within the field of hip and knee arthroplasty. Of all of the orthopaedic events this is in my opinion the most relevant and important meeting for myself as a hip and knee specialist to attend.


OPN: If you weren’t an orthopaedic surgeon what would you be?

MK: This is definitely a difficult question due to the fact that I am very passionate about the career path that I have chosen. If I had to choose another profession I would say an anesthetist or an otorhinolaryngologist. Both professions I would be able to retain my love for science and medicine as well as have the ability to continue to work in the operating room.


OPN: What would you tell your 21-year-old self?

MK: Choose a career path that you want and that you love even if the road to get there is hard. Working hard is a lot easier with a job that you know that you’ll enjoy.


OPN: If you were Health Minister for the day what changes would you implement?

MK: Increased wages for our nurses.


OPN: Away from the clinic and operating theatre – what do you do to relax?

MK: Most of my time that I am away from work on the weekends I enjoy spending time with my wife and two kids. I love to exercise and the game of golf when I have the time to play. As my kids are getting older they too are now beginning to enjoy the game which gives me the excuse to play more often now.


OPN: How do you think the future looks in the field of orthopaedic surgery and what are your predictions for 2022 and the next decade?

A: I think the future looks bright within the field of orthopedic surgery in the next year and many years to come. It’s an exciting time to be in the field of hip and knee arthroplasty with all the recent advancements and those yet to come. There is a large population of patients that will be in need of a hip or knee replacement as well as a demand for qualified specialists who can perform revision hip and knee arthroplasty. It will be an even greater demand as our baby boomer generation ages and the population overall continues to have a longer life expectancy.