There was a time when nearly all major surgeries required spending at least a few nights in the hospital, followed by a lengthy recovery time that was often characterized by immobility and severe pain. This was especially true of total joint replacement surgeries, where hospital stays were followed by days – and sometimes weeks – spent in a rehabilitation or recovery center while enduring postoperative pain and discomfort.
Modern medicine has vastly improved this paradigm. Many patients undergoing total joint replacement surgeries today often spend the morning in an outpatient surgery center and spend that evening sleeping in their own bed.
If your doctor is recommending total joint replacement, be sure to discuss whether you may be a good candidate for having the procedure performed as outpatient surgery.
The benefits of outpatient joint replacement surgery can include the following:
5 Less-Invasive Procedure
Total joint replacement is, in fact, major surgery. However, the traditional approach to joint replacement – with long incisions and clunky implants or prosthetics – has become a thing of the past.
Orthopedists today prefer a minimally invasive technique, with shorter and fewer incisions and state-of-the-art implant devices made of materials like ceramic and titanium carbide. These materials create an incredibly sturdy, smooth, and friction-free replacement in lieu of organic substances like skin, muscle, and tendons, which run the risk of infection and developing scar tissue.
4 Less Cost to You
Outpatient total joint replacements cost only about half that of hospital surgery. That keeps your co-pay low and makes it more likely that your insurance carrier will grant you pre-authorization to have the procedure done.
3 Improved Health and Comfort
It’s no secret – the risk of contracting an infection or having complications is known to increase the longer a patient remains in the hospital. Unfamiliar surroundings, awkward sleep cycles, hospital food, and sharing a bathroom all contribute to stress and can affect your health and well-being.
Unless there are complications or the doctor has concerns, having outpatient surgery will usually result in spending your post-op night in your own home, followed by outpatient physical therapy.
2 Faster, More Pain-Free Recovery
Outpatient total joint replacement surgeries also help facilitate a quicker recovery. At outpatient surgery centers, doctors oftentimes use an anesthetic that keeps the area numb for a few days; this contributes to faster recovery times with less pain, as the patient will be able to manipulate and move the joint soon after surgery. And the faster the patient gets moving, the faster the road to recovery.
1 Physical Therapy Starts Right Away
Whereas inpatient total joint replacement surgery usually requires spending a day or two in the hospital under observation, outpatient total joint replacement can let you start walking almost immediately and then go home within a few hours.
Starting outpatient physical therapy the following day, rather than many days after the surgery, will help you start to acclimate to your highly efficient new joint.
Are You a Candidate for Orthopedic Outpatient Surgery?
While the benefits of outpatient surgery for total joint replacements usually outweigh the negatives, not everyone is a candidate. Determining factors include:
- Whether you have a significant medical problem, or a body weight requiring surgery in a hospital setting, that requires extended or focused postoperative observation.
- Your age.
- Whether you have in place an at-home support system for your discharge and subsequent therapy.
- How much pre-op and post-op preparation you’ve taken – such as training on crutches or a walker, preparing your home to accommodate you during recovery, and an exercise rehabilitation plan.
- Whether a minimally invasive surgical technique can be used to treat your particular condition.
You will need to advise your doctor beforehand if you have any particular health conditions, such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A conversation with your doctor will help determine what is best to help get you back to feeling like yourself again.
Contact a Raleigh Orthopedic Doctor Today
If your doctor is recommending total joint replacement surgery, contact Dr. Brett J. Gilbert. Dr. Gilbert provides outpatient joint replacement surgery for hips and knees at the Triangle Orthopaedics Surgery Center in Raleigh.