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Dr. Brett Perricelli: Improving Lives through Advanced Joint Replacement Surgery
By Nancy Kennedy

Dr. Brett PerricelliThe newest member of the physician group at South Hills Orthopaedic Associates is a highly credentialed and extensively trained orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in advanced surgical approaches to hip and knee replacement and is eager to offer his cutting edge expertise to the people of the Pittsburgh region. Brett Perricelli, M.D., is an orthopaedic surgeon, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a proud Pittsburgh native who is pleased to be "back in the 'Burgh" after completing a specialty orthopaedic fellowship in North Carolina. He brings a patient-centered philosophy to his work, with the goal of helping people achieve pain relief and restoration to the highest possible level of functioning in every aspect of their lives. "Orthopaedic surgery is all about restoring quality of life," Perricelli says, "for people with debilitating conditions and injuries. It is often life changing. Pain and disability can rob you of life's pleasures; they limit your life and keep you at home, isolated and avoiding the activities that you once enjoyed."

Dr. Perricelli performs state-of-the-art surgery to replace worn out, arthritic hip and knee joints, but says that his job is to educate the patient about all the options, which may not always mean surgery. "The options include NSAIDs, which are over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications; steroid injections; viscosupplementation injections to cushion the joint, and exercise. For some people, glucosamine and fish oil supplements seem to help. If medical approaches are ineffective, then we discuss the risks and benefits of joint replacement surgery."

There are exciting advances in joint replacement surgery: newer knee and hip components, alternative and improved bearing surfaces for hips, new tissue-sparing approaches to total hip replacement, multi-modal analgesia to control post-operative pain and accelerated rehabilitation techniques. According to Perricelli, these changes have resulted in an intervention that both relieves pain and restores high levels of function. He is one of very few surgeons in the region using a less invasive, muscle sparing technique called a direct anterior approach. Unlike the traditional procedure, which involves a long incision and major cutting of muscles, this method uses a natural interval between muscles. It can mean less post operative pain, shorter admission, faster recovery and most significantly, less risk of dislocation and limb length inequality. Perricelli performs surgery at St. Clair Memorial Hospital, which he describes as a full service patient-centered hospital. "Orthopaedic surgery requires precision and teamwork and the team in the O.R. as well as on our dedicated Orthopaedic Unit are excellent. Plus, the hospital has specialists in every field who are available in case of medical complications."

Although orthopaedic surgery is a complex, highly technical field, Perricelli is committed to a patient-centered model of care. "I'm not just treating a diseased joint; I'm treating a person. My background in general surgery enables me to keep the perspective of the entire patient. During my orthopedic residency I began to see the big picture, beyond the joint and the diagnosis, and to recognize how the problem impacts the patient's life. I ask what life was like before the pain interfered; my goal is to restore them to that level of activity."

Perricelli is from Murrysville and attended Franklin Regional High School. After graduating from Bucknell University, he attended medical school at Pitt, where he was president of his class for all four years and received several prestigious honors including the Golden Apple Teaching Award for excellence as a teacher and role model. He completed three years of a general surgical residency prior to switching to an orthopaedic residency at UPMC, where he served as Chief Resident, and then went to North Carolina to train at the Hip and Knee Center of OrthoCarolina with Thomas Fehring, M.D., his mentor and role model. "Dr. Fehring is a brilliant surgeon and exceptional physician. I learned from the best and did over 600 surgeries including a high volume of complex revision work. I've brought that expertise back to the people of the Pittsburgh region."

Caring for patients whose lives have been disrupted by arthritis is satisfying work for Perricelli. The highlight, he says, is seeing the patient free of pain and active again at the first post-op appointment. When he is not performing surgery or caring for patients, Perricelli enjoys family time with his wife and daughter. He likes to play golf, watch sports and read and is an enthusiastic member of Steeler Nation. "I love Pittsburgh, the sports and the wonderful people here," he says. "I'm happy to be home."

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the aging of the vast Baby Boomer generation, plus the soaring rate of obesity, are among the factors creating an epidemic of osteoarthritis – by 2020, 18.2% of Americans will be diagnosed with it. Consequently, the number of people who will need joint replacement will rise dramatically. Knee replacements are expected to increase by 500% by 2030, and younger people are choosing to have the surgery earlier rather than waiting until pain and disability become unbearable.

"People need to know that they don't have to suffer the pain and limitations of osteoarthritis," says Dr. Perricelli. "There are many ways that we can help. Come in for an appointment and we'll sit down with you and discuss all the options."

To contact South Hills Orthopedic Associates, visit the website at www.southhillsortho.com or call (412) 429-0880.


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