Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine
“Advanced orthopedic techniques and technology, such as cartilage transplant procedures, are bringing significant new benefits to patients,” says Mark Wade, MD, founder and president of The Surgery Center of Fairbanks. A few of those advantages include the ability to conduct surgeries on an outpatient basis rather than in a hospital, faster recovery times and lowered risks of infection. “It also eliminates the need for patients to travel out of state for these truly ground-breaking procedures.”
A cartilage transplant is a next-generation approach to repair weight-bearing joints, Dr. Wade explains. It replaces damaged cartilage with new cartilage grown from healthy cells extracted from the patient’s own body. It is a preferable alternative to joint replacement surgery or pain pills, especially for someone in their 30s, 40s or 50s suffering from severe pain due to loss of cartilage. Dr. Wade, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, is the only physician in Fairbanks that has performed cartilage implants.
Many of Dr. Wade’s patients come to him for joint repairs. Following five years of orthopedics specialization, he continued with advanced training and two-year clinical fellowships in shoulder and elbow surgery and also in surgical infection control. “Although training following the usual five years of orthopedics is voluntary,” he comments, “I felt it would allow me to offer more options and provide better care to patients.” It’s also the reason his practice handles the majority of the shoulder surgeries for Fairbanks-area residents. “Part of my work is also with trauma patients referred from the emergency room. Often, it’s traumatic foot and ankle injuries.” He also handles general orthopedic issues. “I am fortunate to have a comprehensive orthopedic clinic right in my office at Interior Alaska Orthopedic and Sports Medicine. As The Surgery Center is in the same building, it provides an exceptionally high level of convenience for patients and their families.” His practice is the only orthopedic practice in Fairbanks that offers MRI/CT scans, physical therapy and outpatient surgery at the same location.
Dr. Wade talks excitedly about the many new innovations in surgery. “Another break through is knee replacement surgery in an outpatient facility, something never before thought possible.” He is the first to perform this surgery in an ambulatory facility in Fairbanks. In a hospital, he says, it is usually a two-to-five-day stay. “In The Surgery Center, the patient arrives one day for the operation and leaves by 9:00 am the next morning. That means the individual is in and out in under 24 hours.” There are also other benefits, he points out. “Those include more comfort recovering at home, a shorter time for healing and a quicker return to usual activities. There is also less pain and reduced chance of infection.”
He describes his enthusiasm for The Surgery Center and the advanced surgical procedures it makes possible for Fairbanks residents. “We are continually studying and introducing new technologies, identical to those provided at leading surgery centers throughout the United States.
As the founding owner of The Surgery Center, he describes the challenging journey through the seven-year process to obtain State of Alaska’s Certificate of Need for the facility. In November, The Center will celebrate its ninth year, providing the opportunity for residents of Interior Alaska to receive highly-advanced surgical procedures without requiring travel to Anchorage or out of state. Nearly 25,000 procedures have been conducted at The Center since it opened. “I’m also delighted with the support we can provide to our community, with 41 staff members and the volunteer service we provide, such as the free sport physicals program for school athletes. It’s a first for Fairbanks.”
When talking with Dr. Wade’s patients about their surgeries, the first response is consistently, “I’m free from pain now.” Christopher Rothwell, a Fairbanks resident, described an early conversation with Dr. Wade when he was told, “You have the knees of a much older man.” Christopher went on to say, “The cartilage in my knee just wore out. The joint was bone on bone due to years of hard participation in multiple sports. I’ve been in pain for years.” Christopher was 49 when he had cartilage replacement surgery on his right knee, a procedure which will delay his need for a joint replacement.
Not only did the surgery relieve the pain, Christopher commented that the limp he lived with for years has disappeared and range of motion has increased substantially. He also happily reported that he is climbing stairs easily, and has returned to jogging and riding his dirt bike — carefully, he pointed out. “I feel like I’m 35 again,” he says. “I had a great experience with Dr. Wade and at The Surgery Center. He’s awesome and explained everything clearly. They’re doing great things at The Center.”
Dr. Wade is part of a team of 10 surgeon owners and 26 other providers using The Surgery Center. “We’re proud that people can now stay in Fairbanks when they need surgery, whether routine or advanced, and that The Surgery Center is 100% owned and operated by Alaskans. Who better to take care of Alaskans?”
Mark Wade, MD
Professional & Community Background
Originally from Texas, Dr. Wade received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and medical degree from the University of Texas-Galveston. He served his internship at John Peter Smith Hospital in Ft. Worth, completed his orthopedic surgery residency in Galveston and subsequently opted for two additional training fellowships: in surgical infectious diseases and in shoulder/elbow surgery.
Dr. Wade’s desire to specialize his practice towards sports stemmed from his former status as a competitive athlete and his continuing involvement in sports. His active volunteerism is also sports-focused, including regularly working at athletic events, and donating time and resources to support local school and sports programs, including the sports physical program conducted for athletes for the 5 Borough high schools, among supporting many other sports, outdoor and community activities.
Following his introduction to Alaska in 1987 when working as a fishing guide at a Bristol Bay lodge, Dr. Wade and Cindy, his wife, have made their home in Fairbanks since 1998 where they have raised three children.