The Art of Surgery

Dr. Diane S. Litke brings a deft touch to joint replacement.

By Sondra Barr

Richardson orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Diane S. Litke has an artist’s eye and a deep knowledge of the inner workings of the body’s most active and important joints. Yet, what truly sets this dedicated doctor, who co-founded L&W Orthopaedic Associates, apart is her unwavering passion for helping patients live better, pain-free lives.

Dr. Litke was fascinated by the human body and its movement early on. Growing up in New York, she once found herself in the office of a doctor who was an orthopaedist for the New York Mets. “He was showing me a photo of all his residents and pointed out, ‘There are no women in this group,’” recounts Dr. Litke, who firmly replied, “Not yet.”

This youthful confidence grew when Dr. Litke was attending the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. While interning in the athletic training department, one of the head trainers said to her, “You’re smart enough; you should be the doctor not a trainer.”

The soon-to-be doctor’s thoughts exactly. She earned a medical degree there and went on to complete her orthopaedic residency at the University of South Carolina. She is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery and a Fellow of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons.

“I went to medical school and then decided 100% that orthopaedics was what I needed to do,” explains Dr. Litke, who’s always enjoyed fixing things. “Someone comes to you in pain and you make them better. They can then go back to their lives better than they were before.”

Hip, knee, and shoulder issues are Dr. Litke’s specialities. Assisting her skilled hands, she uses the latest state-of-the-art robotic equipment for accuracy and precision, delivering a powerful combination of experience and technology to all her patients.

Dr. Litke utilizes the Stryker Mako robot, a high-tech piece of medical equipment at Methodist Richardson Medical Center. Serving as the director of the joint program there, Dr. Litke is pleased with the hospital’s services and nurturing culture.

“Methodist Richardson has always had a good atmosphere to work in,” says Dr. Litke. “They’ve been very supportive of my practice, of me, of everything.” The hospital also makes it easier for Dr. Litke to provide exceptional surgical care.

“I had a patient that I discharged this morning who had a total knee done by somebody else about 10 or 12 years ago and he said the difference was night and day, in terms of the pain and function that he had in his knee just less than 24 hours after surgery,” says Dr. Litke.

She attributes this to improved pain management techniques, robotic assistance, no tourniquets, and the most up-to-date pain protocols used to help the patient after surgery.

“I have this one patient who had both her knees done. Within a few months she was walking pain free and walking miles a day. I just saw her the other day and she had lost about 50 pounds just by being able to walk and play with her grandkids,” details Dr. Litke.

“Everyone is different. I’ve had people get back to near normal anywhere from two to six weeks, although sometimes it’s longer,” she says of knee replacements. “Hip replacements sometimes that’s even more dramatic. I’ve had people go back to work two to five days later.”

Being able to change someone’s life by alleviating their pain is Dr. Litke’s motivation. “One of the things I like to pride myself on is being able to use cutting-edge technology, while maintaining a personal touch with patients,” says Dr. Litke.

This personal touch extends to being available for her patients day, night, or weekend. Patients have access to Dr. Litke anytime they need by calling the office, which rings to her phone after hours. Take for instance a patient who’d broken his hip from a fall recently. “I wasn’t on call but he asked me if I would do it and I said, ‘Of course I will,’” she describes.

Opening up L&W Orthopaedic Associates in Richardson 20 years ago was a natural progression for this consummate medical professional. She opened the practice with Dr. John T. Wey, who’s a foot and ankle specialist. In the ensuing years, L&W has become the predominant orthopaedic group in the area and treats patients from not only Richardson, but Garland, Wylie, Plano, and the North Dallas area.

Ending up in Richardson was luck of the draw and not Dr. Litke’s initial intention. Since moving to Richardson, she’s fallen for the small town feel of the area and its proximity to a big city. Her involvement with the community extends to serving on local boards and volunteering at the Wildflower Festival, which unfortunately has been on pause for the past two years due to COVID.

Speaking of COVID, L&W Orthopaedic Associates has responded to the pandemic with vigor. Everyone is required to wear masks, everything is cleaned diligently multiple times throughout the day, and patients undergo temperature and question screening. As for surgeries, COVID patients aren’t allowed on that floor. Additionally, the amount of outpatient joints has increased. “Right now about 50% of my patients are going home the same day of the surgery, as opposed to being admitted to the hospital. They can enjoy their recovery in the comfort of their own homes,” details Dr. Litke.

In the rare instances when Dr. Litke finds herself out of the operating room and with free time, she gravitates toward the art of photography. Perhaps it’s not surprising that she’s drawn to taking photos of musicians’ hands playing different instruments. Dr. Litke is fascinated by the form of the hand, how it can do certain things, and move in specific positions, all things that bring to mind her work as a skilled surgeon. “Sometimes they look all beat up, the hands, yet they make beautiful music,” she says.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Litke, please call (972) 498-4791.