Post-operative protocols will vary by hospital and physician, and you should consult your physician to learn their particular approach. These variations have become even more pronounced over the last several years. Historically, after a successful uncomplicated knee replacement, the patient would typically stay in the hospital for three days. However, many surgeons have significantly reduced the number of in-patient days, and some surgeons are even performing this surgery as an out-patient (with the patient going home on the same day of surgery).
Following surgery, you will be brought to the recovery room generally for about two hours. However, this timing can vary depending on the anesthesiaanesthesia protocols and the availability of hospital room beds. Families are usually not allowed in the recovery room.
Many physicians are now using multimodal pain managementmultimodal pain management techniques to reduce the pain in the first couple of days after surgery. These techniques may utilize regional anesthesia, intra-operative injections, and combinations of medicines.
Remember to ask your nurse for your pain medicine, as many medicines are ordered to be given “as needed” or PRN. Additionally, some physicians may utilize the patient controlled anesthesia (PCA) technique to deliver intravenous narcotics for a short period of time.
Depending on the time of surgery, the patient will usually get out of bed the first day and transfers to a medical chair. Walking may start on the day of surgery or the next day. Physical therapists and nurses will assist with walking. Some hospitals have classes for patients with joint replacements allowing for socialization and education with other patients who have just undergone a similar surgery. Remember to use your incentive spirometerincentive spirometer to help open the lungs.
If a catheter was placed into the bladder to assist with urination, this is usually removed on the first day after surgery. It is important to remove the catheter to decrease the incidence of a urinary tract infection. Additionally, it is important to start moving the bowels by the third day after surgery. Typically, a stool softener will be given and a laxative will be provided when requested.
There are three options for patients after they leave the hospital. The first is to go home with home physical therapy and home health carehome physical therapy and home health care. The second is to go home and attend an outpatient physical therapy program. This requires someone to drivedrive the patient to the out-patient physical therapyout-patient physical therapy center. The third is to go to an in-patient rehabilitation facilityin-patient rehabilitation facility. With this option, the patient will sleep at this facility.