A foot surgeon, also known as a foot and ankle surgeon or a podiatric surgeon, is a surgeon who specializes in surgery on the foot. This can include reconstructive surgery, emergency surgery, and surgery to repair birth defects involving the feet and ankles. These surgical specialists are very highly trained and skilled, and are commonly found working in urban areas where there is a steady supply of patients. Patients in rural areas may need to travel to access a surgeon who can perform specialized procedures on the foot.
The podiatric profession in general consists of doctors who have attended podiatric medical school, a specialized medical school which focuses on training doctors to manage conditions which involve the feet and ankles. Foot surgeons are the surgical specialists of this profession, completing medical school and then attending a surgical residency, which usually lasts three years, to learn how to safely perform surgeries on the feet and ankles.
While some surgical procedures on the feet and ankles can be performed by specialists such as plastic surgeons and orthopedic surgeons, a foot surgeon can deliver highly focused treatment which utilizes the latest information and techniques available. Foot surgeons have studied the feet and ankles extensively during their training, and they are extremely familiar with this area of the body. They can identify unique patient needs, recognize the early signs of complications, and offer a level of service which may not always be available from other surgeons.
A foot surgeon is usually called upon when it becomes evident that a patient requires surgery on the feet and ankles. Patients can also seek out foot surgeons directly, rather than waiting for a referral, as when a patient with a bunion might approach a foot surgeon to discuss surgical treatment options. During the surgical consultation, the surgeon will discuss the patient's medical history, look at imaging studies of the foot, and make recommendations to the patient on the basis of the presentation of the case, the patient's expectations, and the available treatments.
Like other members of the surgical profession, a foot surgeon can command a hefty fee for services. Depending on how a health care system is organized, the surgeon may bill separately from other medical specialists on the patient's team, which is something to be aware of. When a patient is quoted a price for a surgery, it is advisable to ask if this estimate includes the fees for all medical professionals and consultants involved, along with fees for hospital stays, prescriptions associated with the surgery, and so forth.