“I’m having my knee replaced in the morning and then planning to relax at home the rest of the day.”
Some of our total knee replacement patients can now say that, which we think is quite exciting!
It’s important to note that outpatient total knee procedures are not for everyone, and you should discuss with your physician if you are a good candidate for an outpatient procedure.
Outpatient knee replacement procedures are the latest advancement in total joint replacement surgery. In fact, at the end of December, Dr. Michael Chmell performed the first outpatient knee replacement at the OrthoIllinois Surgery Center, and just this past week, he did his second!
This is a big step forward for Dr. Chmell and for our entire organization as it highlights advances being made in joint replacement procedures. Dr. Chmell pointed out some of these advances in an article last year.
The change that made outpatient joint replacement a more viable option is multi modal pain management, in which we administer anti-inflammatories, a central nervous system medication, and a pure narcotic shortly before surgery.
Then–and this is new and quite exciting just this past year–we also inject a local, long-lasting anesthetic (Exparel®) into the knee joint toward the end of surgery to numb the knee.
10-15 years ago, I never would have imagined that outpatient knee replacement would be possible.
Pre-op pain management keeps patients ahead of the pain rather than playing catch up after surgery.
Patients who had knees replaced last year and then did the other knee this year are saying how dramatically different their experiences were. They barely took any pain medication for the second one.
These new techniques allow patients to recover much faster after surgery, which means they can get up and go home sooner than before.
Now, patients can walk in to the surgery center, have a knee replacement, and leave the same day with very little pain.
Belvidere resident, Deen Hulstedt, was the first patient to have a total knee replacement at our surgery center, and recently, we had an opportunity to ask him about his experience.
What circumstances lead you to see an orthopedic sub-specialist?
Deen: Well, I was having–it wasn’t bad pain–but at night, I was experiencing pain in my knee.
I also work full time as a custodian at a local elementary school. In the afternoons, after being on my feet for four hours, I would feel really bad pain shoot into my hip and down to my ankle. I was limping all the time, too.
I figured it was time to get something done.
How long did it take between the time you felt the pain and discomfort and the time you saw Dr. Chmell?
Deen: I waited about two years.
About a year ago around Christmas, I woke up one morning with significant swelling in my knee. I couldn’t put any weight on it at all. My primary physician told me to take an anti-inflammatory, which helped relieve some of the inflammation, but I still had a lot of pain.
Every day after that, the pain really began to bother me.
I got tired of the pain. Any time I mowed the lawn, worked around the house, or was on my feet at work, I had a lot of pain.
Were you afraid at all that pursuing a knee replacement would hinder you from doing the things you enjoyed?
Deen: No, definitely not!
My dad had both of his knees replaced. It sure helped him. He was in pain constantly, rubbing them even when he was just sitting still. Sitting never bothered me. Being on them is what hurt.
And then my wife had both knees replaced at the same time by Dr. Chmell seven years ago. I see how well she’s bounced back from that, so I didn’t even fear the thought of having knee replacement surgery.
How was your experience different from your wife’s?
Deen: She had to stay in the hospital at least three days, and then she had to go to a rehab facility for two weeks.
I didn’t feel any pain afterwards, and I was able to recover at home! Dr. Chmell called me that night around dinner time, and I was relaxing, laughing, and watching TV.
I remember when I was on my way for one of my pre-op appointments that I was thinking I might not even have to stay overnight for the surgery. Then, Dr. Chmell brought it up during my appointment that he thought I would be a good candidate for an outpatient procedure in the surgery center.
I was looking forward to having it done as an outpatient procedure and getting the whole thing behind me.
I’d had one other surgery at the [OrthoIllinois Surgery Center]. It’s just so much nicer not having to go to the hospital where you have to walk a long way before reaching the right department.
Here, I walked in and was received right inside the door. Then, I walked down one hall, had surgery, and left about six hours later to recover at home!
It was so much more convenient before and after surgery. That’s one thing I really liked about having my knee replacement done as an outpatient.
How would you describe your relationship with Dr. Chmell?
Deen: He’s a man of few words, but he’s so professional and does an excellent job! That’s what’s most important to me. After my wife’s surgery, she had her knees x-rayed post-op, and they were straight as a pin. It was very successful, and mine has been as well!
Skill matters, and Dr. Chmell certainly has that.
It’s been one month since your procedure. How do you feel now?
Deen: Actually, I can say I have felt great through the whole process. I wasn’t grumbling or complaining. I’ve had very little pain. Even the nurse couldn’t believe how well I feel.
I haven’t really had any pain, honestly. The only time I experience any pain is when I put a lot of bend in my knee when my physical therapist checks my flexibility. But that’s it.
I haven’t taken pain meds for quite awhile. I haven’t even needed them.
Overall, it was a great experience, and I’m so thankful to Dr. Chmell and his staff.