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Knee Replacement
updated: Feb 24, 2013, 12:05 PM

I may need a knee replacement. Does anyone have recommendations for an orthopedist in Santa Barbara?

Places People Are Talking About:

Dr. CraviottoDr. Zmolek

What People Are Saying:

 COMMENT 378125P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 12:23 PM

Dr Gainor at Sansum is fabulous.


 COMMENT 378126P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 12:34 PM

Dr. Zmolek at Sansum is also wonderful. If you search for reviews of all the Ortho docs at Sansum, you will see that Dr. Z. is considered outstanding. He did my left knee in Sept. and I have nothing but rave reviews for the entire process.


 COMMENT 378127 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 12:44 PM

Dr. Ryu or Dr. Christopher Proctor. They specialize in knees and shoulders.


 COMMENT 378129 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 12:53 PM

If you need a knee replacement, you should have been referred by a doctor to an orthopedic surgeon. If you don't have faith in your doctor, that's one thing. If you weren't given a referral for this procedure, find another doctor and get a second opinion.

Also, avoid Ryu at all costs. ALL costs.


 COMMENT 378130P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 12:54 PM

Dr. Ryu is world class - however his bedside manner is borderline rude.


 COMMENT 378132 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 12:59 PM

Dr. Gainor is NOT fabulous! Do NOT go to that quack! Back in '93 or so I tore my meniscus and it was intermittently acting like a stopper, preventing me from straightening out my knee. Eventually it would fall back into place, and the knee would straighten out. Gainor evaluated it MULTIPLE times over the period of a few months, each time telling me, "Oh, you've just strained it. Take it easy & it'll be fine." No MRI, no x-ray, nothing. FINALLY I got it in my head to get another opinion. Everyone I asked gave me the same recommendation: Dr. Ryu. I went to him, explained the situation, and without even TOUCHING me, he told me exactly what was wrong. Unfortunately by this time there was no way the meniscus was going to re-attach itself, because it was not properly immobilized by Gainor. So, I had to get it scoped & the offending piece of meniscus removed. Now I have bone-on-bone contact because the whole thing was out-of-pocket, and an insert, at least back then, was considered an elective procedure. Long story short: Gainor is a four-letter word--avoid him like the plague. GO TO RYU. The man's a genius.


 COMMENT 378134 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 01:02 PM

Dr. Victor Taconnelli is superb, in every respect.


 COMMENT 378138 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 01:26 PM

Dr Steve Hollstein. Absolutely the best!


 COMMENT 378139P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 01:30 PM

Check each Dr.'s reviews out on the web. It will give you an averaged opinion from many rather than relying upon individual opinions, which may be biased.


 COMMENT 378146 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 01:44 PM

Go to UCLA.


 COMMENT 378169 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 03:25 PM

Dr. John Moreland at St. John's hospital in Santa Monica.

Please pay attention to the advice to do a lot of research.


 COMMENT 378177 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 03:58 PM

Dr. William "Bill" Galivan. Great with Hips and Knees. Meet him. You'll be done. Practices at SB Cottage. SB Cottage and Goleta are both certified centers of excellence for Orthopedics.


 COMMENT 378215 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 05:11 PM

Holstein Rocks! Did my knee. Funny, kind, patient. Takes the time to hear the patient.


 COMMENT 378251 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 07:46 PM

I've heard that Taconnelli is all show, no substance. He also has a high rate of post-op infections. Zmolek, Hollstein, Craviotto, Hurvitz, and Bradley are the best according to someone that knows. Still best to do some research.


 COMMENT 378257 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 08:00 PM

Well I certainly disagree with the slur directed at Vic Taconnelli from "someone who knows." Is that as in "some say . . . . " Who is some? Have they had a knee replaced by each one of the knee doctors in town? I certainly doubt it. Having gone through the procedure myself, I advise you to interview no less than three doctors and decide for yourself with whom YOU can work with. Knee replacement is not a passive process like taking your car in for an oil change. Every doctor mentioned in this thread so far has done good work, and of all the people I know who had at least one knee replaced, I have heard personally of only one case of infection - and it was NOT done by Taconnelli - over 10 years ago.


 COMMENT 378291P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-24 11:10 PM

Gainor, Zmolek & Taconelli are all good, though I have surgical experience with only one. No need to go to LA. Good advice to meet or speak with them and go with the doc you feel you interact with best. I would be comfortable with any of them. But that's just me.


 COMMENT 378302P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 12:09 AM

Ryu is all I ever hear from my friends who know every good physician in town. It is well-known he has no bedside manner. But his skills apparently make up for his lack of charm.


 COMMENT 378303P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 12:10 AM

Oh. And Gallivan is Mr. Personable and loves his work. He's highly recommended, too.


 ELKAY agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 07:24 AM

I've had both my knees replaced by Dr. James Zmolek--HIGHLY HIGHLY recommended. As previously stated, meet at least 2 docs to see who you feel most comfortable with going thru this very challenging (yet ulmitately rewarding) surgery.


 QUEENDI agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 08:04 AM

Dr. Bradley or Holstein. Both are wonderful.. Bradley's office is more efficiently run! The waiting room and x-ray facilities are WAY nicer too. If you value your time.


 COMMENT 378353P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 08:25 AM

Dr. Gary Bradley at Alta Orthopaedics is excellent. He has done both my knees, and I recommend him highly ..


 COMMENT 378357 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 08:34 AM

Moreland in Santa Monica is outstanding. Does only knees and hips.


 COMMENT 378361 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 08:40 AM

Knee replacement is a difficult surgery and has not yet reached the proficient technology and successful prognosis as hip replacement surgery. I had both hips replaced (10 years apart) by Dr. Zmolek the first with excellent results the second a little less successful (probably because I was older but both still good. Torn meniscus is a particularly troublesome and nagging injury because it recieves a blood supply from only one direction and when it is torn it does not get sufficient blood to heal correctly, which is why the torn, floating or loose piece must often be removed. Arthroscopic surgical procedure has made this much easier and less intrusive. Also they are experimenting with a replacement piece to insert and stablilize the knee once the piece (or entire meniscus) is removed to remove the weakness, locking and sudden giving out experienced by many with a torn meniscus


 COMMENT 378370 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 08:53 AM

Tacconelli is knife-happy, will want to operate when no surgery is necessary. At least that is my experience. Hurvitz saved me from unnecessary surgery. Two people I know recently had knee replacement with Hurvitz and are very happy. Bradley is also very good.


 COMMENT 378379 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 09:09 AM

Dr. Steve Hollstien is my go to Orthopedic physician but I agree with the other posts that it is good practice to interview & research more than one doctor and choose the one that you feel most comfortable with.


 COMMENT 378385 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 09:18 AM

NOT Christopher Proctor! I had a very bad experience with him from his non-communication to ignoring my drug allergy before surgery, and being left with a bone on bone situation after surgery requiring a replacement. I went to Dr. Gallivan's practice for the replacement. All the surgeons there are excellent. Dr. Anthony Romero was my surgeon. I recommend him and his associates very highly. Good luck.


 COMMENT 378397 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 09:36 AM

If you're not sure you need a replacement, see Ryu. And if you need one, he's a good bet for that, too. Dr. Z was too busy to even talk to me about the MRI on my shoulder. Dr. T told me a lot about it, then wanted to chop, chop, chop. Dy. Ryu looked at it and prescribed physical therapy. All better now. Don't get surgery you don't need. But look around, interview and discuss the procedures...they don't all do it the same way.


 COMMENT 378400 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 09:41 AM

I recently had major orthopaedic surgery done at UCLA after the highly regarded local surgeon told me he wasn't sure IF my damage COULD be repaired, and IF it COULD it would be by someone else. AND he took 10 weeks to give me that diagnosis. Huge waste of time. The guy at UCLA did the whole job arthroscopic and I am healing beautifully. No one has mentioned it here but who you go to after the surgery for physical therapy is crucial and I highly recommend John Muller at Muller & Weber next to Cottage downtown. I go in there twice a week now for my shoulder, and see many people with knee and hip replacements being put through their routines. The staff is competent and John Muller is extremely skilled.


 COMMENT 378402 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 09:48 AM

I had a total knee replaced in April 2011. I was 71 and skied during Thanksgiving that year with no problems. Dr. Graham Hurvitz did my surgery. There are 4 or 5 great knee docs in this town. Need more info?



 COMMENT 378423P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 10:19 AM

OP, your head must be spinning from all of this information. But the best advice is: check ratings on the web, interview people who have have the surgery about their experience, and make sure that you feel comfortable with the Dr. you select (after a second opinion). Good luck!!!! Oh, and that comment about the importance of PT afterwards?? That's critical... not so much who is your therapist but that you do the work they prescribe. It just may be the key to how well everything goes for you.


 COMMENT 378430P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 10:27 AM

Wait as long as possible before surgical intervention;
knee surgery is far from being perfected. And try to lose as much weight as possible; weight-bearing is a big factor concerning knee health.


 COMMENT 378442 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 10:59 AM

Dr Hurvitz is one of the best. My husband had both knees replaced with no problems during after and even now after four and five years repectively.


 COMMENT 378445 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 11:03 AM

Dr. Zmolek replaced my left knee 4 years ago and my right knee 6 months ago. Know that is it a very intense and painful process, you MUST do the physical therapy, if you won't don't bother with surgery, you will have a bigger mess than you started with. I was totally committed to the physical therapy, had no infection (big fear) and was back at work WAY BEFORE schedule. The older you are the more difficult it can be. I was 56 on the first one and 60 on the second operation. Dr. Zmolek was wonderful throughout the process answered all my questions (I went in with a written list) and has a gentle sense of humor that always helps. His infection rate is very low and that is really important! Good Luck!


 COMMENT 378469 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 11:36 AM

I second the weight loss suggestion!!


 COMMENT 378516 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 12:56 PM

Seeing more than one doctor for more than one opinion makes sense. In my experience Dr. Tacconelli is NOT knife-happy, and I consider his communication style MUCH better than that of Dr. Zmolek, who IMO has a lot to learn about communicating effectively with his patients.


 COMMENT 378533 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 01:18 PM

Dr. Ryu gets my vote - he is very straightforward and he's testy and agro most of the time but he gets the job done. I liked him - he shows his care for his patients by fixing what is broken.


 COMMENT 378534 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 01:19 PM

Dr. Z did both of my hips...the oldest one is like 12 years old and no appreciable problems.

Nurses I know really like Dr. Z and one even ventured the statement "his stuff never gets infected." And if you have ever had a successful joint replacement that gets infected, you are basically screwed....They have to take it out and I think leave it open to treat the infection...then re-replace it...

I, too, have a rotten knee. The lateral meniscus was removed with a big open incision in 1962 and has never been the same. My spies tell me that since the knee is a more complicated and painful operation, put it off as long as you can stand it. Cortisone and some of the other "lubricant" shots are worth a try first...good luck!


 COMMENT 378547 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 02:02 PM

Use the search feature on Edhat, OP, for more information on this. I think there was a thread from last year about this same surgery and a lot of people who had actually gone through it commented on that one.

I believe it will also illuminate reasons why to avoid a couple of local doctors who are recommended here.


 SBALAX agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 02:25 PM

Dr. Zmolek did both of my hips -- three years apart -- and I am completely satisfied with what he did. As one poster mentioned, doing the PT is critical.

Dr. Brian Emmerson, also at Sansum, took care of a torn lateral meniscus a year ago arthroscopicaly and I have had no problems since.


 COMMENT 378568 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 03:03 PM

As a SBCH RN...Another vote for Bill Gallivan....he's up to date on the latest procedures, i.e. minimally invasive etc... spend one night in the hospital, and out the next day.( Less chance of infection)....he has GREAT outcomes. Also John Muller is the best PT in town for knees and has opened a new aquatic center, which is perfect for strength training and balance after surgery.


 COMMENT 378573 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 03:07 PM

Hips and knees are two different things, and I would not select a doctor for a knee surgery just because sh/e did a successful hip surgery. PT is critical, crucial, absolutely necessary. See Chrissy at Elite Performance in Montecito. None better!


 COMMENT 378575 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 03:09 PM

Dr. Michael Price at the Spine and Orthopedic Center is awesome!


 COMMENT 378615 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 05:05 PM

Doctor Gainor did my knee I had torn the meniscous in half and he repaired it and I have never had a pain since. I rollerskate and run and it feels brand new . Highly recommend him!


 COMMENT 378698 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-25 09:39 PM

I would ask the doctor who told you you may need a knee replacement. He is a doctor, he knows your knee, and would give a better referral.


 COMMENT 378756P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 08:18 AM

Dr. Ryu - proficient, opinionated, could implement some humility. Others mentioned above served my purposes better.


 COMMENT 378762 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 08:25 AM

I work for Dr Ryu and Dr Graham Hurvitz. Those who complain anout Dr Ryu simply do not appreciate a world renown doctor. Do you go to a doctor for their personality or for their knowledge? Come check out the walls of our office :) plenty of happy celeb clients! Although Dr Ryu does specialize in knees and shoulders, it is arthroscopic surgery. Dr Graham Hurvitz, Dr Ryu's office partner does knee replacements and is the best doc in town. The nicest guy you will ever meet. Call for an appointment ask for Brooke 8059632729 !


 COMMENT 378907 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 01:51 PM

I fully believe in getting referrals for medical procedures, but how can you trust anything some anonymous people on EdHat say? You need to somehow find people who are willing to give you a personal recommendation, and hopefully their condition was similar to what you have also so that you might expect the same outcome.

Maybe you can create a new email account and ask people to send you their contact info if they are willing to tell you about their doctor and experiences. Not sure how else you can do it.


 COMMENT 378959 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-26 04:28 PM

The VERY BEST is Dr. Craviotto!

As far as Dr. Bradley, after consultation with him I would never go back to him again.

My knee is completely 100 + successful with Dr. Craviotto and I have a 140 degree "bend" which is one of the best physical therapists have seen!

You will be VERY HAPPY with Dr. Craviotto!


 COMMENT 379867 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-28 01:25 PM

Dr Zmolek did my hip over 15 years ago and I have never had a problem with it....knock on wood. He was very nice and explained things but that was before he joined Sansum.

Dr Bradley is a excellent surgeon, but is very abrupt and to the point and if you are overweight he will not operate on you.

Dr Ryu is also excellent but lacking in bedside manner.

I would not let Dr Proctor operate on my dog!!


 ANDY agree helpful negative off topic

2013-03-01 11:49 AM

Ryu and Hurvitz are the best... period. I don't need a new best friend so it is OK if Ryu is a little grumpy.. BTW he has never been grumpy with me. Just don't be a whiner.

Graham Hurvitz took care of me when I shattered my scapula and tore my meniscus. I am 100% now.

THEN go to John Kangas at Hayashida Physical Therapy. John is loved and respected by all his patients. Bright and very personable.



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