In recent years, a new approach to joint replacement surgery has emerged: same-day (outpatient) joint replacement surgery. In the past patients would spend 5-7 days in the hospital following joint replacement surgery. When I first started training, the norm was for people to stay at least 2 nights in the hospital. As surgical techniques and pain management protocols have evolved, most patients now go home the same day. In fact, many people don’t even the see the inside of a hospital for their surgeries; they are done at a surgery center. In this blog post, we will discuss the same-day joint replacement surgery, its benefits, and potential risks.
Same-day joint replacement surgery: Same-day joint replacement surgery is a new approach that allows patients to have their joint replaced and go home the same day of surgery. This is made possible using newer surgical techniques, better pain control methods, and rapid recovery protocols.
Benefits: Same-day joint replacement surgery can provide several benefits over traditional joint replacement surgery. It can reduce the risk of infection and other complications associated with an extended hospital stay. It can also reduce the cost of the surgery, as patients don't need to pay for an overnight hospital stay. Additionally, patients are able to start their physical therapy and recovery process in the comfort of their own home.
Risks: As with any surgery, there are risks involved with same-day joint replacement surgery. If you have certain medical conditions, complex medical history, or have had adverse reactions to anesthesia in the past, it may be safer for you to spend a night in the hospital for observation before going home. Same-day joint replacement surgery is not suitable for all patients. Patients who are overweight, have pre-existing medical conditions, or are older may not be good candidates for this type of surgery. Additionally, not all hospitals and clinics offer this option, and not all surgeons are trained in this technique. It's important to discuss your individual case with your surgeon to determine if same-day joint replacement surgery is a viable option for you.
Patient's preference: The decision of whether to have same-day joint replacement surgery or traditional joint replacement surgery ultimately depends on the patient's preferences, the condition of the joint, and the surgeon's recommendation. It's important to consult with your surgeon and ask them about their experience and preference in terms of same-day joint replacement surgery.
The majority of patients I operate on (90%+) go home the same day after a primary joint replacement. There are a few keys things to keep in mind in order to have a successful outpatient surgery (and recovery).
It is important to be aware of your social situation and needs. At home, I recommend you have someone stay with you, for at least the first several nights. After surgery, most patients are pretty independent in terms of being able to go to the bathroom, getting out of bed, etc. However you may need help with things such as meal prep, taking care of your dogs/cats, helping you with stairs, driving you to physical therapy, taking you to appointments, running errands, etc. I recommend patients have a designated friend or relative set up before having surgery (ideally when you first schedule your surgery date).
Prepare your home: clear out any fall hazards such as: slippery rugs, wires/cords running along the ground. Make sure you have enough space to walk with a walker around your home. If you have a flight of stairs (or more) leading to your bedroom, it may be wise to sleep on the ground floor for the first 1-2 nights until you feel comfortable and ready to navigate stairs. Some people may need to stay with a friend of a relative at their place if they feel their own home is not ideal for post-surgery.
Make sure you have all your post-surgery essentials ready to go. I give all my patients their prescriptions 1-2 weeks before surgery, during their pre-operative visit. Make sure to get them filled ahead of time so you (or the person taking care of you) doesn’t have to run around last minute. Also, some pharmacies may take an extra time to fill certain medications such as pain medications. Along those lines, be sure to make your physical therapy appointment (for the day after surgery) 1-2 weeks in advance. Many physical therapy places are busy and get booked 1-2 weeks out. You do not want to delay starting physical therapy. If you will be purchasing (or renting) a cold therapy (ice) machine or a wedge pillow before surgery, be sure to get it delivered and set up before the day of surgery. If you need things like a walker, shower chair, raised toilet seat, etc. our office will work with you to make sure it is delivered to your home (or place of surgery) ahead of time.
Same day of surgery can provide several benefits over traditional joint replacement surgery, such as reducing the risk of infection and other complications, as well as reducing the cost of the surgery but it may not be suitable for all patients, and not all hospitals and clinics offer this option. It's important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of the surgery with your surgeon and to determine if this option is suitable for you.