Can Total Joint Replacement Surgery Be Performed In An Outpatient Setting?

Treating Arthritis With Outpatient Surgery

Arthritis can really do a number on the joints. The condition causes wear and tear of the smooth cartilage that helps with shock absorption. With less and less cartilage, joints can rub together during movement, causing pain and stiffness. Advanced arthritis, a severe form of the disease, can lead to a total joint replacement. Replacing an entire joint sounds like a scary endeavor. However, people living with arthritis will be pleased to know joint replacement can happen in an outpatient setting.

What is a total joint replacement?

The diseased cartilage can cause chronic pain, reduce movement, and even reduce lifespan. Replacing the arthritic joint can reduce pain, stiffness and improve the joint’s range of motion. Total joint replacement is a surgical procedure that removes the damaged cartilage and bone and replaces these parts with prosthetics. Knee replacements and hip replacements are the most common surgeries. However, advancements in surgical procedures extend joint replacement to the shoulder, ankle, wrist, and elbow.

Can it happen in an outpatient setting?

In the past, joint replacements were open surgeries. Open surgery meant that the surgeon used large incisions to access the joint. Today, using arthroscopic techniques, patients can receive a minimally invasive joint replacement. That means the surgeon uses a few small incisions and special tools to replace the joint. Minimally invasive surgery means some patients can have surgery in an outpatient setting. Outpatient surgery allows the patient to leave the same day. Some patients can even use an ambulatory surgical center, a facility that performs outpatient surgeries only.

What happens during surgery?

Outpatient joint replacement starts long before the operating table. The patient will discuss the risks and benefits with the doctor beforehand. Joint replacement happens under general anesthesia, meaning the patient will be asleep. The orthopedic surgeon accesses the joint using an arthroscope through a buttonhole incision. The scope projects the joint on an external monitor. From there, additional small incisions allow tools to remove the damaged tissue and bone. At the final stages of surgery, a prosthetic joint is installed before the incisions are closed. Once the patient is in good health, the patient can leave the facility with the help of a loved one.

Is anyone eligible for outpatient surgery?

Minimally invasive joint replacement has not entirely replaced open surgery or inpatient surgery. In fact, not everyone with joint pain is eligible for surgery. Some patients wishing for surgery must be in good health besides the joint pain. An existing disease, like osteoporosis, or an infection, may rule out surgery. Patients who smoke or suffer from alcoholism may also be ineligible. In short, the patient should be capable of dealing with the stress of surgery and the challenges of recovery.

Why choose outpatient surgery?

For patients who qualify for outpatient surgery, there are some fantastic benefits. For starters, outpatient surgery is cheaper than open surgery at a hospital. Outpatient facilities and ASCs are efficient and carry fewer costs by not keeping patients overnight. Outpatient facilities also use advanced medical technology in the surgical process, meaning faster recovery time and potentially more successful outcomes.

The choice is yours

Today, doctors are performing more and more total joint replacements thanks to outpatient facilities. Using minimally invasive techniques, surgeons can now replace entire joints with just a few short incisions. That means someone in generally good health can get a joint replacement in an ASC. Speak to an orthopedic surgeon about the possibility of outpatient joint replacement today.


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