How long does the surgery take?
In general, the surgery takes about two hours followed by a one to three hour stay in the Recovery Room (post anesthesia care unit - PACU).
How long will I be in the hospital?
The average length of stay is one to three days after surgery. This is dependent on your age and medical condition. Some patients are able to leave the day after surgery.
What about Physical Therapy?
PT begins the evening of or the morning after surgery depending on when you actually arrive in your room. The therapist will come to your room to assist with exercises and walking.
What kind of anesthesia is used?
The type of anesthesia depends on patient and surgeon preference. Some patients will have a regional anesthetic (nerve block, epidural, or spinal) along with light sedation to help them sleep. Other patients will have general anesthesia. The anesthesia provider will discuss these options with you at your hospital pre-operative visit.
Will there be adequate pain medicine?
Yes. Pain medicines will be available to you immediately after surgery. Surgeons use different combinations of medicines bases on their preferences. A PCA (patient controlled analgesia) pump may be utilized that allows you to press a button for delivery of the medication through your IV. These pumps have a lockout mechanism so that the amount of medicine is regulated and you cannot overdose yourself. Medication is also available by shot or by mouth and you must ask the nurse for it. You may also have a pump if you have a nerve block. Every effort will be made to make sure that you are comfortable. Please remember that the pain medicine will not completely relieve your pain. It is meant to make you comfortable enough so that you can rest.
What are the side effects of pain medications?
Pain medications can cause nausea, vomiting, itching, drowsiness, decreased energy, loss of appetite, and constipation. You may need a stool softener or laxative to remain regular. These are available over the counter.
Will I take any other medicines after surgery?
Yes. You will be given a blood thinner based on your surgeon's preference along with your normal home medications.
Should someone be with me after I go home?
Yes. We encourage that you go home if possible. If your situation is such that no help is available at home, arrangements can be made prior to discharge from the hospital for you to go to a sub-acute rehab center.
How do I take care of my incision?
A surgical dressing will be in place when you get to your room after the operation. It is typically changed in one or two days to a smaller bandage or may be left open to air if your surgeon permits. If drainage or bleeding occurs, cover the incision with a clean bandage.
When can I bathe/shower?
The timing of this activity is surgeon dependent but in general, showering may be permitted in the first week. Bath tubs and swimming pools should be avoided for at least two weeks. Please ask your surgeon.
Will I have stitches or staples?
Skin closure technique is surgeon dependent. You may also have steri-strips over the incision.
What about a cane or walker?
You will need a walker initially but will progress to a cane over time. They will be provided for you.
Will I have a knee immobilizer?
A knee immobilizer may be in place when you wake up from your operation. This will help stabilize your knee when walking the first few times. It is also useful in keeping the knee straight while sleeping. Not all surgeons require knee immobilizers.
When can I drive?
Patients can usually safely drive four to six weeks after surgery if surgery is on the right knee. If your left knee is replaced, you may drive when you are comfortable. Driving is not permitted while taking pain medication.
What activities should I avoid after knee replacement?
Running, jumping and other impact loading activities should be avoided as they can lead to increased wear of the prosthesis and early failure.
Is blood required during surgery?
Most patients need not donate their own blood prior to surgery. However, your surgeon will advise you if this is necessary and will make the appropriate arrangements for you to do so. Occasionally blood will be necessary during your hospital stay.
What are the risks of surgery?
Complications from surgery are rare - but possible. Risks include infection, blood clots, stiffness of the knee joint, fracture of the femur (thigh bone) or tibia (shin bone) during surgery, loosening or wear of the implants, wound problems, need for additional surgery, damage to ligaments, nerves and/or blood vessels, bleeding, problems with anesthesia, and death.