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Getting to Know Dr Ramesh Subramaniam

"To listen with empathy, guide with expert opinion, operate with technical finesse and follow-up with care and diligence. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than the successful outcome of treatment for my patient."
Dr Ramesh is an orthopaedic surgeon at Parkway East Hospital specialising in arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery of the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee. He also manages general orthopaedic conditions including arthritis/degenerative diseases, osteoporosis and traumatic injuries.
  • Specialty:

    • Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Qualifications

    • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, National University of Singapore
    • Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, UK
    • Master of Medicine (Orthopaedics), National University of Singapore
    • Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (Orthopaedics), UK
  • Languages Spoken

    • English
    • Indonesian
    • Malay
    • Mandarin
    • Spanish
    • Tamil

Getting to Know Dr Ramesh Subramaniam

Getting to Know Dr Ramesh Subramaniam

Q: Please share with us some of your experiences as a doctor.

I got interested in orthopaedic surgery very early on, since my medical student days. In medicine, conditions are sometimes investigated or treated without full understanding of the diseases. I found orthopaedics to be more direct, and the results and outcomes of treatment are seen almost immediately. I also enjoy the technical nature of the profession. #readmore

After medical school, I got involved in orthopaedic surgical training almost immediately and with the completion of my training in Singapore, I moved to Europe for further subspeciality training in arthroscopic (minimally invasive) surgery. I trained in both Ireland and Spain, and was involved in the care of professional athletes such as rugby players and soccer players. It was extremely gratifying watching these players return to their highest level of performance after recovery from surgery.

Besides orthopaedic surgery, I also devote my time to charity work in my capacity as a doctor. I have been on mission trips to the Riau Islands in Indonesia to provide primary healthcare and even pro-bono surgery.

I had a very memorable experience of doing humanitarian earthquake relief work in Jogjakarta in the aftermath of the earthquake there in 2006. I was part of a team that provided trauma surgery care to the victims of the tragedy.

Outside of surgery, I also teach medical students, residents and overseas fellows in my profession as a doctor. For my contributions in this regard, I have been appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor with the Yong Loo Lin Medical School in NUS. I am also passionate about mentorship for young aspiring doctors and have organised mentorship programmes for tertiary level students.

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Q: What kind of conditions do you treat, or specialise in treating?

My formative years in orthopaedic training have equipped me with skills for managing general orthopaedic conditions such as trauma and fractures, limb infections, osteoporosis and degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis.

My area of expertise is shoulder and knee surgery – specifically in the adoption of minimally invasive (arthroscopic) techniques to address problems with the shoulder and knee. #readmore

Individuals, who frequently injure their knees and shoulders and are suitable for these techniques, tend to be from younger and sporting populations. However, with increasing participation in sports and exercise even amongst the older folks, I am able to use arthroscopic techniques to solve their joint issues as well. The same techniques can also be utilised to address degenerative conditions in the older patients.

Arthroscopic surgery involves insertion of a fiber-optic camera into a person’s joint through keyhole small incisions and maneuvering instruments inside to repair soft tissues like ligaments, tendons, meniscus or cartilage.

With these same skills of intra-articular surgery with the arthroscope, I am able to perform treatment for joint conditions of the hip, elbow and ankle as well.

With arthroscopic surgery, some of the common conditions that I treat are:

  • Knee meniscus, ligament and cartilage injuries
  • Kneecap (patella) instability and pain
  • Shoulder instability and dislocations
  • Rotator cuff tendon tears of the shoulder
  • Shoulder biceps conditions
  • Elbow instability and dislocations
  • Elbow stiffness and contractures
  • Hip labral tears and femoro-acetabular impingement
  • Ankle sport injuries
  • Arthritis/Degenerative conditions of the knee, shoulder, hip and elbow

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Q: Do you perform any kind of special treatments?

I am one of the few surgeons in Singapore who are trained in hip arthroscopy. The hip joint is a deep, large joint and has always been considered difficult to access with small incisions and arthroscopy. As such, hip arthroscopy has a steep learning curve. #readmore

Conditions such as labral tears of the hip, as well as impingement conditions of the hip can be addressed with hip arthroscopy. I also offer arthroscopic surgery for early hip degeneration, loose bodies or cartilage injuries.

I have a keen interest in complex knee ligament reconstructions. These can be knee injuries with injuries to multiple ligaments or previously reconstructed ligaments which have ruptured once again. There are challenges for an arthroscopic reconstructive surgeon to pick the right surgery, right technique and suitable grafts and implants to achieve successful outcomes for the patient.

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Q: Could you share your philosophy in treating patients?

Orthopaedic surgery goes beyond the technical expertise of surgical repair or reconstruction. I believe in empowering my patients with the knowledge and understanding of their conditions so that we can make a combined informed decision for treatment and management. #readmore

To do this, it is imperative that I build trust in our interaction during the consultations. I strive to have clear, honest and open communication with my patients to educate them on their conditions and guide them through their options using my expertise.

I aim to listen with empathy, guide with expert opinion, operate with technical finesse and follow-up with care and diligence. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than the successful outcome of treatment for my patient.

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Q: Briefly describe a particularly difficult case that you successfully treated using your expertise.

I recently had an interesting case of a patient with a complex shoulder dislocation. She had been undergoing another minor interventional radiological procedure, when she developed a seizure and hit her shoulder. She had dislocated her shoulder and her primary team of doctors were unable to reduce the dislocated joint, and referred her to my care. #readmore

Despite thorough evaluation with x-rays and relevant scans, I did not predict the extent of bone damage and quality of tissues until I had access to the shoulder. During surgery, I found that the damage was far greater than what was revealed on the scans and I had to improvise to use a prosthetic joint. I used the bone from the resected ball portion of her joint to reconstruct the socket portion of her joint. She recovered well with good function of her shoulder, without any further instability.

When undertaking complex reconstructive surgeries such as this, I find that detailed pre-operative planning is important. Even then, sometimes you may be caught off guard by unexpected situations, and must be able to draw on orthopaedic principles and improvise.

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Q: In what ways do you think your expertise can improve your patients’ lives?

The mainstay of my reconstructive surgery work is to restore patients back to their former quality of life. Joint injuries and sports injuries are rarely life or even limb threatening. However, they do cause a great deal of impairment to a person’s lifestyle – whether professionally, in their recreation or in their daily activities. It brings me great satisfaction to realise that I am able to help address their problems to bring them back to their former level of activity or lifestyle.

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