Orthopedic surgeon returns to Syracuse to join his father and uncle at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists. He discusses the move.
By Steve Yablonski
Q: So, you’re sort of joining the family business at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists.
A: Yes, I’m joining my dad and my uncle, which I’m really excited about. In addition, just being able to come back to Syracuse. I loved growing up here and, professionally, there was no better opportunity than having my family as mentors. So I’m pretty psyched about that.
Q: Did you get your interest in orthopedic surgery from them?
A: Yeah. I did try to go to medical school with an open mind. Sure, I liked a lot of stuff, but just seeing how much they loved their job and going to work every day, it really piqued my interest. And I saw it for myself when I worked through my rotations. So, yeah, absolutely.
Q: What’s it like working with family in a professional capacity?
A: I’m starting in a week and a half. I have operated with them, though. It’s pretty wild learning to do my first hip replacements, first knee replacements with them. It was a pretty cool experience. But, yeah, I’m sure there will be some great things about it and some challenges, too. I’m really excited for it though.
Q: Was your intention always to practice in CNY?
A: I left the area for my training, but it’s always been in the back of my mind to come back. I’m very lucky that I can. I think Syracuse is a wonderful place to raise a family and for kids to grow up. SOS is a great practice. I think they work together as a team to do things that are right for patients. And just having my dad, my uncle, and the other senior partners there who are world-class physicians with years of experience. They seem to foster a great learning environment. They work together to make everybody better.
Q: Since you’re very familiar with Syracuse and have a connection to it, how would you go about talking a physician who isn’t from here into practicing in CNY?
A: I’m biased, of course, but I think it has everything you’d want. Hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter. It’s an easy place to raise a family. Some of the best schools in the country. The Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes. You’ve got SU [Syracuse University]. It’s just an easy place to live. I also think it’s easy to break into the community here.
Q: What kinds of surgeries will you be doing?
A: I’m trained to do general orthopedics and took an extra year to do a fellowship in hip replacements and knee replacements at Duke [University]. So while I’ll take anything that comes my way, hopefully I’ll be focusing on joint replacements. The thing I like about joint replacements is the surgery is fun. I like doing it. And it’s one that can really give a patient their quality of life back. These are people who generally are active, maybe a little bit older, who want to be able to walk with their grandkids or be able to hike or do sports. There are very few things in medicine that let you have that kind of impact on quality of life.
Q: Having more recently come up through medical school and training, do you feel you can bring some knowledge of newer techniques and devices to the practice?
A: Yeah, absolutely. Surgery requires a lot of knowledge and experience, but it also requires being up-to-speed on what the latest and greatest things are. I’m sure I’ll be learning a lot from the people who have been doing this for many years, but I can also teach them a thing or two from what I learned. And there’s also just different ways of doing things. I trained in places nobody here has been yet, working with some of the finest minds in joint replacement, so hopefully I’ll be able to contribute that as well.
Q: What’s an example of something you hope to offer to practice?
A: Duke’s a big tertiary referral center where you see the hardest of the hard cases, the biggest challenge. While you’re never fully prepared, I think I’m as ready as I can be. I think they hopefully prepared me to think through challenges and working through anything that comes my way.
Q: What’s the most complex case you’ve had so far?
A: So obviously we do primary hip and knee replacements. That’s the first time someone has a bad knee or hip. But the thing you really do fellowships for is revisions. So that’s people who have had a replacement 15, 20 years ago who we need to go into and make adjustments. That can be very complex and challenging. I saw a lot of that in fellowship and residency.
Q: How much more life can a revision get out of a joint?
A: It’s very case-dependent, but the ideal is that the first surgery lasts forever. That’s our goal. And that’s the goal with a revision as well. It’s really specific to each patient. It can mean pulling everything out and starting over or just changing out the weight-bearing surfaces.
Name: Max Greenky, M.D.
Position: Orthopedic surgeon at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists
Education: Sydney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
Affiliations: Crouse Hospital; St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center
Organizations: American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons; Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Family: Wife (Samantha); daughter, 6; son, 2
Hobbies: Skiing, running, hiking, cooking, exercising