Richard Williamson, MD

In his own words:

Every one of my patients gets treated with respect and sincerity. I am most proud of my efforts at maintaining a personal interaction. No one wants to be on the sidelines – I do whatever I can to get my patients back on their feet quickly.

Expertise:

Minimally-invasive partial knee replacements that require no overnight hospital stay; total hip and knee joint replacement.

Specialty: Orthopedic surgery on lower extremities

Education and Certifications:

  • M.D., University of California
  • Internship and residency at the University of Washington
  • Board certified by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Distinctions: Patients have come from throughout the Western United States for knee-replacement surgery by Dr. Williamson, one of the area’s pioneers for the operation.

 

As one of Washington’s innovators in partial knee replacement surgery, Dr. Richard Williamson possesses the demeanor of a meticulous surgeon who takes pride in thoroughness and thoughtful preparation.

So it may come as a surprise to both patients and fellow doctors alike that outside the operating room, he is a self-professed “adrenaline seeker.”

Under the countenance of this mild-mannered physician beats the vigorous heart of a highly-competitive bicycle racer, a private pilot and owner of an RV6A experimental aircraft, and an enthusiast of kite boarding, the water sport of riding a small surfboard pulled by a nylon kite.

In bicycle racing alone he holds 14 state and national championship medals.

“I like to keep moving – on water, in the air and on land,” he says. “So I suppose it’s fitting that my goal is to keep my patients active and moving, whether it’s walking, cycling, skiing, or another way.”

For more than 20 years, patients have traveled from throughout the western United States for Dr. Williamson’s advanced skills in partial knee replacements.

In partial knee replacement, a surgeon removes and replaces only the most damaged areas of cartilage in a patient’s knee. Clinically, the operation is known as “unicompartmental knee arthroplasty,” an alternative to total knee replacement, when a surgeon removes all cartilage from the knee joint and substitutes a metal and plastic implant.

Partial knee replacement surgery allows a smaller incision and thus a faster recovery than traditional replacement surgery. Currently, the majority of Dr. Williamson’s patients go home the same day of surgery, avoiding a hospital stay altogether.

When he started performing partial knee replacement surgery in the late 1980s, the procedure was so rare that it represented only about 1 percent of knee replacements. At the time, only three surgeons in the area performed the operation. Today, partial knee replacements account for 10 to 15 percent of all knee replacements.

“The changes in orthopedic surgery over the years have been remarkable,” Dr. Williamson says. “I feel privileged to have been able to make contributions to the advancements.”

Those contributions include the patented design of surgical instrumentation for minimally-invasive surgery. The instruments are among the three most popular of their kind now in use.

Such achievements seem an unlikely outcome for someone who admits to a lack of ambition in his youth.

“I was an unmotivated high school student, and I went to community college initially,” he recalls. “But as soon as I started college, I discovered a love for math, science and education and became an excellent student from then on.”

 

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