Questions and Answers About Same-Day Joint Replacement

Posted on October 1, 2020

If you have a sore, stiff, arthritic and worn out joint, going in to the hospital or surgery center in the morning and leaving later that day with new joint sounds like a great way to get on the road to recovery quickly. With today’s joint replacement techniques and pain control, it’s possible. Patients are finding that there are many benefits to same-day joint replacement – from lower cost to recovering in the comfort of their own home. Dr. Chrastil, joint replacement expert at Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center, answers the most common questions about same-day joint replacement.

Who qualifies for same-day joint replacement?

Individuals who are generally healthy and without chronic disease, will qualify for a same-day joint replacement.  Your doctor will advise you if there are any concerns. It is important, if you are considering a same-day joint replacement, that you have a friend or family member who can stay with you and help you for the first two to three days following surgery. They can help remember pain medicines and assist in helping you move around.

 What about pain after my procedure?

A common question that people have about same-day joint replacement is whether the pain relief will be adequate to recover at home.  Fortunately, with the advances in pain management, we see joint replacement patients go home the same day of surgery at an increasing rate. In the recovery area, you will have staff by your side when you wake up and throughout the day until you leave our facility.  We will make sure that your pain is under control before you go home and you will go home with the same pain medication that you receive in recovery. On average, patients report that their pain while at rest is generally no more than 4 or 5 on a 10-point scale. Most patients are very happy to be home in their own bed recovering versus a hospital setting. Even the most comfortable hospital bed, can’t compare to the comfort of your own home.

What can I expect when I arrive for surgery?

Patients undergo a same-day joint replacement in either a hospital or surgery center setting. You can expect to arrive in the morning.  You will receive a spinal anesthetic prior to the start of your procedure.  The surgery itself should take approximately an hour to an hour and a half, and then you will be moved to a recovery area where a nurse will attend you to until the anesthetic wears off.  Patients will be up and walking and we make sure you can use the restroom prior to going home.  Patients usually go home sometime between 2–7 pm, that same day.  Keep in mind, that even if you opt for a same day procedure, there are options to stay overnight if you feel you need to do so, however, 98% of people do go home the same day.

What can I expect while recovering at home? 

Once you arrive home, you will be using either a walker or a cane to get around.  Your doctor will have given you a pain-relieving block around the incision that usually provides good pain relief through the first night and gives you a chance to get on a good regime of pain medications by the next morning.  Each person is different and it is not unusual to be on pain medications for a week or two post-surgery.  Patients can plan with any joint replacement to get back to pre-surgical activities after about two months and they are surprised to know that at six months they will be back to doing the things they love and may have even forgotten that they had surgery.

Is it Less Expensive?

Same-day joint replacement may be less expensive.   When if comes to medical care, patients are starting to pay attention to cost, especially when it directly affects their pocketbook. Fortunately, Panorama’s Hospital, OrthoColorado, and it’s surgery centers are know for having some of the best care possible for the best value.  Because same-day joint replacement can often be performed in a surgery center versus a hospital setting the cost may be less. Recent studies reviewing costs from a surgery center, showed some procedures were up to 40% less expensive in a surgery center than in a hospital. Therefore, having a joint replacement in a surgery center can decrease the cost to the patients. There are also savings from not needing the resources and nursing staff for an overnight stay.  So, yes, outpatient or same-day joint replacement is often less than inpatient joint replacement.

What if there are complications?

Research has shown that there is not a higher risk of complications from a same-day joint replacement.  The most common complication that may arise is nausea, which is a side effect of pain medication.

The best part about same-day joint replacement is that patients are usually very happy and satisfied with the experience.  It is often a more intimate experience, because during your four to five hour recovery stay, you have one-on-one care from a nurse and the doctor may also check-in several times, as well. People like to get home and from a psychological standpoint it is good for them too. They report feeling less sick and they feel immediately more independent than staying at a hospital. Most importantly, they get to be home and with loved ones and in their own, comfortable environment.

Dr Chrastil is a joint replacement surgeon at Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center.  He has been offering same-day joint replacement for 4 years and has performed more that 600 same-day joint replacements