Total knee replacement has become a very common procedure for the treatment of knee arthritis. This surgery is generally safe and when properly performed provides predictable and durable results. With advances in procedural techniques, anesthesia medications, pain management and rehabilitation, some people can now have a total knee replacement without spending a night in the hospital or leave the following morning. Not all patients are ideal candidates for outpatient or short stay surgery. If you have serious medical conditions – such as heart or pulmonary disease, balance or chronic neurologic issues with difficulty walking before surgery, or live alone, you most likely are not a candidate for short stay surgery and will spend a couple of days in the hospital.
Your motivation to get better is a key part of doing well with short stay surgery
Who can have outpatient or short stay surgery?
If you are healthy and active with no major or ongoing medical problems, then you might be a good candidate for outpatient or short stay surgery. Typically, younger patients who are walking without assistive devices (like canes or walkers) before surgery and are limited only by a painful knee make good candidates. Your motivation to get better is a key part of doing well with short stay surgery, and it is very important to keep a positive attitude.
Getting ready for outpatient or short stay surgery
If we have determined that it is safe for you to have outpatient or short stay surgery, it is essential to make plans before the day of surgery. Include your family in the plans – especially those who will be staying with you and caring for you after you return home. This individual can serve as a coach and is an important part of the process.
- Go to the class offered by the hospital where you will have your surgery.
- Prepare your home: remove loose rugs, board pets, prepare and freeze meals.
- Plan your care: fill prescriptions; make appointments for nursing care and physical therapy.
After surgery and going home
Before you are ready to go home, you should:
- Be safe walking with crutches or a walker
- Feel good enough to eat solid food and drink liquids with no nausea or vomiting
- Not have any dizziness or drowsiness
- Urinate without difficulty before leaving
- Have stable vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate
- Have pain well controlled with oral pain medicine