Thanks to advances in technology and pain management, outpatient joint replacement surgery can save patients an overnight trip to the hospital and even bring rehabilitation right into the living room.
Bradd G. Burkhart, M.D., a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, knee and shoulder surgery at Orlando Orthopaedic Center, explains the benefits outpatient surgery provides to patients: “The reasons to do outpatient surgery are numerous but the biggest one is that you get to go home at the end of the day.”
Benefits of outpatient joint replacement surgery include:
- Patients return home within hours of surgery, compared to an overnight stay in the hospital with a traditional inpatient procedure
- Ease of access when checking-in and checking-out at an outpatient surgery center
- Smaller risk of infection from an outpatient surgery center versus a hospital
- The ability to recover and rehabilitate the joint at home quickly following the procedure without traveling to a rehabilitation clinic several times per week
Joint replacement surgery is always regarded as a last resort, employed only when nonsurgical methods such as medication, injections, and physical therapy have proven unsuccessful at alleviating chronic pain and restoring proper function. Outpatient joint replacement surgery is a minimally invasive process by which the worn and injured parts of a joint (partial) or the entire joint itself (total) are removed and replaced with new synthetic components.
As there are many benefits to outpatient surgery, Dr. Burkhart states: “We like to try and do as many surgeries as we can outpatient. Sometimes the nature of the surgery requires that you have to do it in an inpatient setting, but when you can do it outpatient we try and do that.”
Outpatient Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee replacements are one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine with more than 600,000 knee replacements performed annually in the United States. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), over 90% of patients who undergo knee replacement surgery show a remarkable decrease in knee pain and a considerable improvement in their capacity to engage in normal daily activities.
According to Dr. Burkhart, outpatient knee replacement surgery is the same surgery that one would have done in a big hospital. The same medical implants are used by the same surgeons and highly-trained staff, all without the hospital hassle.
“You come into the outpatient center, you go to sleep for your surgery and then during the procedure we use special medication that can keep your knee numb for up to three days,” says Dr. Burkhart.
This added benefit allows for faster recovery times and patients also can avoid lengthy stays at unfamiliar rehab centers. “You can actually start walking in the recovery area and then when you go home, we try to do outpatient physical therapy, as opposed to staying in a rehabilitation center for two or three weeks,” says Dr. Burkhart.
“We get you comfortable in your own home, and then we start outpatient physical therapy in an outpatient center.” This allows access to advanced equipment and the benefit of more usable space and trained staff.
Outpatient Shoulder Replacement Surgery
Shoulder joint replacement is just as effective as knee replacement surgery, but is less prevalent with roughly 53,000 shoulder replacement procedures performed every year in the U.S.
“Shoulder replacement is essentially taking the shoulder joint and replacing the ball and the socket, because of arthritis or because of a number of other reasons,” says Dr. Burkhart. “It’s the exact same procedure as in a large hospital.”
As with outpatient knee replacements, minimizing pain is a key benefit of the procedure.
“We can do that by using special medication that can keep your shoulder pain-free or close to pain-free for a couple of days,” says Dr. Burkhart. “We also do outpatient physical therapy, and that’s helpful because they have well-trained physical therapists who can really focus on your issue in an outpatient setting.”
Outpatient joint replacement certainly offers several distinct advantage over the inpatient setting, however not all patients will qualify for the procedure, commonly due to factors such as overall health, age, weight and insurance.
To learn more about the procedure, benefits and limitations, request your appointment today.