QA with Dr. Anthony Tropeano: Doctor reflects on his first year in Demopolis

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How do you become and orthopedic surgeon?

The easiest way to say it that I had some injuries in high school when I was playing sports; I got involved with Dr. Larry Lee Mack in Birmingham and really kind of through his influence, I even did some work in college with him and I kind of got interested in being a doctor.

When you&8217;re in medical school they kind of make you look at everything and run you through all of the options. Nothing really was as much fun to me as doing orthopedics and it&8217;s nice because there are lots of options you have to try to make people better, get them up, get them going and get them back into their lives. We can really help people out and I like that with orthopedics because there are a lot of hands-on things you can do.

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How did you come to Demopolis?

As far as coming to Demopolis, I moved around a little bit as far as my early practices go, but really just being in Alabama was the answer for me. Demopolis is a great spot for a lot of reasons.

One, there&8217;s a really large need for this area; there&8217;s really not a full-time orthopedic surgeon in this area for probably 60 miles. There&8217;s plenty of people in this area, there&8217;s no question of that. The other part of it is that my parents live in Birmingham; my wife&8217;s parents live in the Fairhope area so it&8217;s great. It&8217;s two and a half hours to Fairhope and two hours to Birmingham. It&8217;s a great spot that&8217;s right in the middle.

Danielle, my wife, grew up in a small town; I grew up in Birmingham. It&8217;s really a nice community. Everybody&8217;s been really nice to us. Our oldest, Alexa, is in high school at Demopolis High School and has been really accepted and she has done very well in school. She was involved in volleyball, now she&8217;s a cheerleader. She&8217;s having alot of fun.

How has your practice gone so far this year?

Because there was nobody here for so long, now there is somebody here that is full time all the services at the hospital have been very good.

The Operating Room and that whole crew is fantastic we&8217;re certainly getting better as time passes. We still have goals we haven&8217;t met yet but we&8217;re certainly in a good position there. We use the rehab at the hospital. The crew down there has done a very good job also.

A lot of the cases and surgeries that I do, especially even in orthopaedics, rely upon therapists a lot after surgery. They really help people out and they&8217;ve done a great job. As far as getting tests done, whether they need MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or CT scans (Computed tomography) or X-rays, things have definitely improved and gotten better. They&8217;ve got a good MRI machine and CT scanner, we&8217;ve got very good studies on it. At this hospital right now, there&8217;s really no reason to send anybody anywhere else to get tests, to do rehab, to do surgery. There&8217;s not much that I don&8217;t do or the hospital doesn&8217;t do for people that are in this area.

The only thing I haven&8217;t done as far as surgery goes; I haven&8217;t done any spine surgery yet. I take care of back and neck problems all the time. I take care of people and there&8217;s a point where I&8217;m going to do some training for that to do some surgeries on the neck and do some surgeries on the lower back. It just hasn&8217;t come about yet.

Are there any procedures that you specialize in your practice?

As far as surgeries we do that are unique, the sports aspect of it, rotator cuffs, and ACLs (Anterior Cruciate Ligaments) not everybody is basically doing the same protocol or type of surgery we&8217;re doing not even in Tuscaloosa, Meridian or Montgomery. There are some surgeons in Birmingham that do some of the same techniques we do, some in Tuscaloosa, but not really as a whole, not really.

We do the anterior approach to the total hips, there are very few people that are doing that procedure and I really like that procedure, because you get a very good look at the hip, not only by looking at it on an X-ray machine but also by looking at it during the surgery. And you can get a very good look at it and put things together very nicely and balance everything out and that is moving along quite well.

The total knee replacements that we&8217;re doing for females, is that sort of gender specific because a woman&8217;s knee is a little bit different than a man&8217;s. The total knee replacement is not a one size fits all thing, it&8217;s a little bit different.

In general, as far as the year has gone, it&8217;s been really good, I&8217;m really happy with the way things are. We&8217;re not as busy yet as we want to be but we&8217;re certainly getting there. My patients will be, able to tell you better than others, but sometimes, especially the last couple of months, it has been very busy up here. People are sitting outside of the room having to wait, which is not the common thing, but it sometimes happens. As far as numbers of cases, it has increased and the number of people coming through the hospital continues to increase, we just have a ton of new patients all the time. All the doctors in the community, all of the family practice doctors have been very helpful and there is a very good referral base from them. It&8217;s been a really, really good experience.

How has the Black and Blue Clinic gone so far?

We started that this year. Since residency we had a little bit of that when I was at the University of South Alabama with Dr. McBride. We kind of had a Saturday morning clinic then and I was with the Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham.

On Friday nights we were always waiting on kids from our team or from another team to come in. Saturday mornings we were around to kind of help that out. There are some physicians in different areas that have tried to set things up. I tried to do this in Mobile when I was down there for a period of time. We haven&8217;t seen a ton of people, we&8217;ve had it for two Saturdays now and we&8217;re not seeing a ton of people there, which is kind of a double edged sword, because it&8217;s good because they&8217;re not that many kids getting injured, bad because we&8217;re sitting around and we&8217;d like to see some people.

The biggest thing we&8217;re trying to do is to make sure a lot of the high schools in the area know we&8217;re here and available. In some ways I think people are still not fully aware of what we have and also I&8217;m new to the area. Traditionally, people have sent kids to West Alabama to the trainers there and then they go to Birmingham for surgery. The surgeons that have been working up at West Alabama are very good; they are people I trained with. That&8217;s good, but in the same respect I don&8217;t think people need to drive all the way to Birmingham. We&8217;re trying to let them know that they have an option here that&8217;s just as good.

Is there anything really memorable about the last year here?

Honestly, everything has been very good. Mike Marshall and Art Evans getting things squared away and getting the clinic started to the or getting people in to being able to get people in and out and seen. There&8217;s really not one thing and to me that makes it better because there are a lot of little things and it&8217;s easier to sustain and be happy with something with a lot of little things to build it up and make it better. Certainly, as far as the opportunity goes, I&8217;m real happy with the area. I&8217;m happy with the hospital. The patients have been great. There&8217;s not any one thing I guess I could put my finger on that has made it great, but we&8217;re certainly happy with it.