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Outpatient Joint Replacement – An Amazing Trend in Orthopedic Surgery

Posted on: May 10th, 2017 by Dr. Michael J. Chmell

Imagine having your knee or hip replaced in the morning and recuperating in your own bed by the afternoon. For many patients, they don’t have to imagine because these knee and hip replacement surgeries have become an amazing reality, thanks to improved technology, less invasive techniques and advances in pain management. Having your knee or hip replaced at 7 a.m. and being home in time for lunch is just one benefit. There is also a significant decrease in cost by having a procedure at a surgery center versus a hospital and there is a decreased risk of infection at an outpatient surgery center compared to a hospital. Lastly, patients and their families consistently rate their experience as more pleasant at an outpatient surgery center.

Historically, a total knee replacement performed as an in-patient procedure required admission to the hospital for up to three days, often followed by a stay at a rehabilitation center that could last a week or two. A patient opting for outpatient joint replacement will bypass these stays and recover in their own home. While outpatient joint replacement is not for everyone, for those who qualify it can be an amazing advantage. In order be a candidate for outpatient knee or hip replacement surgery, the patient must be in good health and understand their post procedure home requirements. A patient’s home environment must be safe.  They must also have a caregiver, who we call their “coach”, who will be present before, during, and after the procedure. The “coach” should attend pre surgical visits, be aware of the patient’s medication, be present the day of surgery, and be available to stay with and assist the patient upon arrival home.

The patient’s outpatient joint replacement surgery is backed by the full support of an experienced surgeon and clinical team. At OrthoIllinois, we take it a step further by assigning a Total Joint Coordinator to each patient to ensure they are fully knowledgeable and the experience is as successful as possible. These coordinators make sure the patient has everything he or she needs from pre-operative to post-operative recovery. The key for success when it comes to out-patient joint replacement is that the patient is committed to the physical therapy required after surgery and to following instructions from his or her surgeon and total joint team members.

The medical landscape is always changing, and we’re constantly looking for ways to improve patients’ outcomes and recovery time. If a patient feels more comfortable at home and we can help him or her get there faster, then I’m all for it.