Frieder Mauch
Dr. Frieder Mauch is head doctor of the clinic for Elbow and Shoulder Surgery of the Sports Clinic Stuttgart. ©Nils Schubert

[ADVERTISEMENT]: In the Sports Clinic Stuttgart, not only top athletes come and go, the clinic also welcomes other patients. In this interview, Dr. Frieder talks about the course of a hospital stay.

Dr. Mauch, you direct the Clinic for Shoulder and Elbow Surgery of the Sports Clinic Stuttgart where sportsmen of the German soccer team VFB Stuttgart and the handball team TVB Stuttgart are treated. Do you also treat “normal patients”?

Dr. Mauch: We’re a sports clinics and we treat lots of sportspersons, but of course there are also many other patients that we treat just like the sportspersons.

Your clinic has a very good reputation and has recently been listed as a top clinic in the area of shoulder surgery by Clinic Compass. How long does a statutory health insurance patient have to wait for a doctor’s appointment?

Dr. Mauch: For an elective surgery, you have to wait two to three weeks. An emergency, such as a fracture or a higher degree torn tendon, will be treated immediately.

Is surgery always the last step, what are the alternatives?

Dr. Mauch: Surgery is always the last step, unless it’s an emergency. Depending on the patient’s complaint, we also consider alternative treatments. An inflamed bursa in the shoulder joint is for example treated with cortisone, hyaluronic acid or the patient’s own blood. Physical therapy is of course also an important pillar in conservative treatment.

Hundreds of people who suffer from chronic shoulder pain come to your hospital every year. The cause is often a rotator cuff tear. What can patients with this complaint expect when they come to your surgery hours?

Dr. Mauch: At first, the patients receive extensive information about the treatment possibilities during the surgery hours. In the case of an operation, the patients stay in the hospital for two to three nights for the post-operative pain treatment. The surgery for a rotator cuff tear is pretty painful because the tendons have a lot of pain receptors. 90% of surgeries are performed minimally invasive, so the torn tendon is treated with a keyhole surgery. We have a great expertise in this field due to the high number of patients.

What is the essential advantage of the minimally invasive technique? Why is it often used?

Dr. Mauch: There are two important reasons. We can refine the diagnosis before surgery because we get a better overview of the tear thanks to a small camera that is inserted into the shoulder. Additionally, for the minimally invasive intervention, we don’t have to cut through the muscle in the shoulder, so that it is hardly injured or not injured at all. Therefore, the patient’s pain during rehabilitation is lower.

Does the minimally invasive camera surgery also have disadvantages?

Dr. Mauch: There are no disadvantages if you don’t ask too much of the camera surgery. For some symptoms or injuries, minimally invasive surgery is not possible. Then, we have to perform open surgery. It’s important to choose exactly the procedure that is best for the patient.

Can I choose the doctors who operates on me at the Sports Clinic Stuttgart?

Dr. Mauch: As a statutory health insurance patient, you theoretically don’t have the free choice of doctors, so you cannot choose. However, the doctor who performs the surgery also does the surgery hours. Private patients have the free choice of doctors and can be operated by me.

Top athleteswho are very sensitive because their performance depends on a healthy body come to your surgery hours. Is there a difference in the consultation of top athletes and “normal” patients?

Dr. Mauch: No, we advise sportspersons very extensively, but we take just as much time for older patients. For example, for some patients suffering from shoulder arthrosis, it is recommended to implant a prosthesis. This is a big step that has to be considered carefully. If the patient decides for a shoulder prosthesis, we can treat them on a high level. We implant more than a hundred shoulder prostheses every year.

You already talked about some treatments of your broad range of therapies. Are there shoulder or elbow diseases that you don’t offer treatment for?

Dr. Mauch: Since 2019, we are certified as a shoulder and elbow clinic by the German Association Shoulder and Elbow Surgery (DVSE). There are very few clinics that received this certificate. We are specialized to an extent that we don’t reject any patient. Unless the patient is so ill that he needs longer intensive care on an intensive care unit, which we don’t have.

What is the normal procedure of a stay in the Sports Clinic? For which patients do you recommend out-patient treatment, who should receive in-patient treatment?

Dr. Mauch: We do the smaller operations on an out-patient basis, we follow the legal requirements here. That means, that the patient is operated on an out-patient basis and can go home at noon. There are patients who want an out-patient surgery because they are afraid of staying at the hospital. These patients receive out-patients surgery as well, if it is medically acceptable. However, there are also patients who want to be hospitalized for one or two days. We accept this wish as well. Either the health insurance pays for the stay or the patients pay the small surcharge themselves.

Is there anything particular that has to be paid attention to because of the Coronavirus?

Dr. Mauch: You could say that nothing is the way it used to be. Everything changed in the process. As a first big step, we extended our surgery hours in March 2020 to 13 hours per day, so that there are not as many patients in the clinic at the same time. Then, it continued successively. Of course, patients staying in the clinic are tested 48 hours before surgery. In the case of a negative test result, they can be admitted as an inpatient. Emergency patients are tested with a rapid test.

After the admission to the clinic, the patients are looked after by you or a doctor from your team. You have long working days, not only on times of Corona. What drives you?

Dr. Mauch: We are happy when a sportsperson can play again after a long term injury or when a patient who is not a top sportsperson can experience a pain-free daily life again. We receive a lot of positive feedback from thankful patients. We are very happy about that.

Priv. Doz. Dr. Frieder Mauch directs the Clinic for Shoulder and Elbow Surgery of the Sports Clinic Stuttgart as head doctor since 2015. He studied medicine and sports as a double degree at the University of Tübingen and qualified as a specialist in orthopedics at the Sports Clinic Stuttgart and the Olgahospital Stuttgart. In 2016, he was awarded the qualification of university lecturer at the Clinic for casualty surgery of the University of Ulm in the field of orthopedics and casualty surgery.

This article was created with the kind support of the Sports Clinic Stuttgart.