ONS Physician Spotlight on Dr. Frank AversanoFeatured Doctor
Get to know Dr. Frank Aversano, hand and upper extremity surgeon, who joined ONS in September 2022.
How did you get interested in hand surgery? I became interested in hand surgery early in my orthopedic surgery training. As orthopaedic surgeons, and specifically hand surgeons, we are in a unique position to restore function and significantly improve patients’ lives in a variety of ways. I really enjoy the breadth of problems that we are able to take care of and getting patients back to doing both the hobbies and sports they enjoy as well as everyday tasks that may have become difficult for them. As a hand & upper extremity surgeon I take care of every aspect of the arm, from the shoulder to the fingertip, and thus perform a wide range of orthopedic procedures (joint replacements, arthroscopy, fracture care, etc.) as well as specialized surgeries for conditions unique to the hand, such as microsurgical repair of nerves and arteries.
Why is it important for patients to see a hand specialist? The hand is unique in its balance of precision and power, which can only be achieved because of the complex interaction of many different anatomic structures in the hand and wrist. Being an expert on the hand allows us to consider all treatment options, whether that is surgery or more conservative options such as injections, bracing or therapy. People should not hesitate to see a hand surgeon, even if they know they do not want to undergo an operation for their hand condition. Hand surgeons specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of all conditions involving the hand and wrist, and we are fortunate in that we can treat many conditions without surgery. We also work closely with other providers who help us care for patients with non-surgical methods, including physiatrists, who can perform nerve tests or ultrasound and x-ray guided procedures, and hand therapists, who work with our patients on targeted therapies specific to the hand and wrist. When I am meeting with a patient, I want them to be aware of all treatment methods available to them, including non-surgical and surgical options, so that they can make an informed decision about their care.
What is your practice philosophy? The philosophy of my practice is to always put the patient first. I want every patient I meet to feel that they are getting the absolute best and most comprehensive care we can provide. Patients come to us at a time of need, when they are experiencing pain or suffering from a significant functional limitation. I strive to understand each patient’s goals, so that we can individualize their care and determine the best course of treatment together. Patient education is also a critical component of this. I want each patient to understand what is causing the pain or dysfunction in their hand or arm, how we can treat it, and why we may choose one treatment over another.
What trends do you see in hand surgery? One of the biggest trends in hand surgery has been the increasing number of surgeries we are able to perform with the patient wide-awake. Techniques have been developed over the last two decades that allow us to perform a wide range of surgeries using only local numbing agents to keep to patient comfortable and pain-free without the need for sedation during the procedure. There are many potential benefits for those who choose this method, including increased convenience to the patient and decreased anxiety about being sedated or having general anesthesia. By eliminating general anesthesia from the procedure, patients do not have to undergo pre-operative testing or fast before surgery, they do not experience post-anesthesia nausea or grogginess, and they are often able to drive themselves home from their own surgery. While having surgery in this way is a safe and convenient option for many people, it is certainly not for everyone. A patient may not wish to have surgery in this way, or it may not be an option for the type of surgery they will undergo.
What are your personal interests? I have a wife and two young kids; I enjoy spending as much time with them as possible. I also enjoy traveling, spending time outdoors, running, hiking and exercising.