OUTPATIENT JOINT REPLACEMENT
If you are healthy enough, outpatient joint replacement (where you have surgery and go home on the same day) may be an option for you at EmergeOrtho. In comparison to inpatient joint replacements, much of the process remains the same but there are a few differences. Special consideration of the medical status of the patient is the biggest factor. Anesthesia techniques (to make you more comfortable) are modified for outpatient replacement patients. Physical therapy at home is begun the day after surgery. Since you won’t be at the hospital where the surgical team can check on you, an earlier follow-up appointment is scheduled. Lastly, you’ll need a caregiver or team of caregivers present with you to assist with walking, medications, and meals.
Some of the advantages to outpatient joint replacement include:
3) fewer complications
Outpatient joint replacements often offer substantial cost savings since there is no hospital stay. Also, they can be done at “surgery centers” which typically charge significantly lower fees than typical hospitals might. Many patients are more comfortable being at home in a familiar environment while they recover. Patients may be more likely to avoid complications since they are likely to move around the home more than they might at the hospital. Lastly, the chance of picking up an infection from something or someone at the hospital is lessened the shorter the amount of time spent there.
Sometimes patients scheduled for outpatient surgery may end up having to stay at the hospital (or may be sent to a hospital from a surgery center) if unforeseen complications occur. To lessen this risk, the patient’s health is carefully screened prior to surgery. The bottom line is your safety is our top concern.
AT THE SURGERY CENTER
The main differences between inpatient and outpatient joint replacements at the surgery center involve the type of anesthesia used. Outpatient patients often get a shorter-acting “block” or injection to allow them to move their legs sooner. A long-acting “local anesthetic” to numb the tissue around the incision is frequently used to help provide comfort. Special combinations of pain and nerve medications may be prescribed. Generally, urinary catheters are not used for patients undergoing outpatient joint replacement.
Rather than being transferred to a hospital bed (also called “the floor”) after surgery, you will have physical therapy (PT) when recovered enough in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). When you have proven you can walk appropriately with PT and are felt to be safe to be sent home, you will be discharged. Patients undergoing outpatient joint replacements may stay in the PACU longer than inpatient replacement patients since they need to be fully recovered before being released.
RECOVERING AT HOME
- Take your medications as directed in your discharge paperwork
- Your leg muscles may be weak for the first day or so – make sure to wear any braces sent home with you and use your walker or crutches when you move around
- Do not stop using braces until you are advised to do so by your therapist or surgical team
- Try to drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy diet – you need energy to heal
- Follow the instructions for your dressings and showering given to you at the time of discharge
To learn about whether outpatient joint replacement surgery would be a good fit for you, call (919) 220-5255 to schedule an appointment with one of our surgeons.
Article By: William Silver, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Medical Director, EmergeOrtho Triangle Division