A Tale of Two Surgeons: Father and Son, Working Side by Side
From a young age, Keith Fehring knew he wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon.
He didn’t have to look far for inspiration. His dad, Dr. Thomas “Tom” Fehring, has been an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee replacements for thirty years.
“I saw the impact my dad has on his patients and knew that I wanted to help people in the same way,” says the younger Fehring.
“He’s a lot like his mother. He’s a smart, observant kid,” says the elder Fehring.
Keith Fehring is now Dr. Keith Fehring. He and his dad practice side by side at the OrthoCarolina Hip and Knee Center, seeing patients and performing surgeries. Both Fehrings focus on hip and knee revisions, types of surgery that generally take more time and can be extremely complicated. Revision joint replacements are difficult cases that other surgeons outside OrthoCarolina often won’t take on due to their complexity.
Before almost any revision surgery he does, Keith Fehring discusses the case with his dad. For nearly any situation in the operating room that Keith Fehring encounters, Tom Fehring has seen it before and has years’ worth of advice for his son. On the other hand, Keith Fehring has a newer perspective and training in modern techniques for difficult problems to share with his dad. At a weekly hip and knee meeting, they collectively discuss the most difficult cases and decide together how to handle them.
“We discuss cases frequently,” says the younger Fehring. “We scrub in and perform cases together sometimes. It’s nice to have another set of eyes and another opinion.”
In 2017, the Fehrings were two of thirty orthopedic surgeons who participated as faculty at a revision hip and knee arthroplasty conference, the International Congress on Joint Replacement, held annually at the Mayo Clinic. Ironically, the Mayo Clinic is also where Keith Fehring did his fellowship. At the recent conference, Keith Fehring lectured on the surgical approach to revisions for total knee arthroplasty. His dad, Tom Fehring, spoke on custom implants for severe bone loss in hip replacement.
“Even thirty years in, it’s a challenging job,” says the elder Fehring. “But people get better from the work we do.”
Adds the younger Fehring, “I value and respect his opinion immensely. There’s no one out there like my dad.”