A Patient's Guide to Hip and Knee Replacement Surgery
Being prepared for what to expect before, during, and after joint replacement
surgery will help make it a less intimidating experience. The following
is an overview of what to expect and tips to prepare yourself for surgery,
as well as your home for a successful recovery.
Preparing Your Home
- If you live in a multi-story home, make sure everything you need is easy
to get to and on the same floor where you will spend most of your time.
If there is not a bathroom on that floor, make arrangements to have a
- Make sure your bed is low enough so your feet touch the floor when you
sit on the edge of the bed.
- Place items you will need within reach without having to stand on your
tiptoes or bending low.
- Make sure you can easily get to or reach your phone.
- Make sure you have a reliable thermometer.
- For at least the first week, you will need help standing, using stairs,
bathing, dressing, and other household chores. It is recommended that
a friend, family member, or someone from a home health service be available
to help you when you go home from the hospital.
- Since you will not be able to drive, make arrangements for someone to help
with your grocery shopping and other errands.
- The following items may be useful to have when you go home from the hospital:
a long-handled shower sponge; crutches or a walker; a long-handled "grabber"
to help you reach things; and handle bars in the bathroom to help you
steady yourself. Also, make sure that your bathtub or shower has a nonslip
mat or decals.
- Remove throw rugs, which can be tripping hazards.
One Week Before Surgery
- Visit your primary care physician for a preoperative exam and clearance,
including blood work, an EKG, chest x-ray, and urine analysis.
- Go to your pre-op appointment with your orthopedic surgeon, who will review
the details of your procedure with you. Be ready with any questions you
may have about your surgery and recovery process.
- Discontinue any blood-thinning medications and/or any nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory
drugs (NSAIDS) 10 days before surgery.
Day of Surgery
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- When you get to the hospital, an IV will be started by a nurse when you
are in the pre-operative holding area. You will also be given pain medication.
- You will be given antibiotics one hour before surgery.
- You will meet your anesthesiologist, who will ask you some questions and
talk to you about the type of anesthesia to be used during your procedure.
- Your hospital stay will typically last 2 to 3 days. You will receive physical
therapy each day.
- You will be given antibiotics for 24 hours after surgery.
- Pain medication will be available to help keep you comfortable.
- If you had knee surgery, you should wear your knee immobilizer at night
for the first few days, or when walking until you are able to perform
a straight leg raise. Most patients are able to discontinue use of the
immobilizer in about a week.
- Your bandage will be changed daily for about a week.
- You will be given a blood thinner, and compression devices will be placed
around your lower legs to help prevent blood clots.
After Hospital Discharge
- Although most patients go home after 2 to 3 days, some patients will be
advised to go to a rehabilitation facility for 7 to 10 days.
- You will receive physical therapy at home.
- If you had knee surgery, ice your knee 3 to 4 times a day; keep the ice
on your knee for 20 minutes each time.
- Continue to take your blood thinning medication for several weeks after surgery.
If you are prescribed a blood-thinning medication such as
warfarin, a home health nurse will visit you twice a week to draw your blood and
monitor the warfarin level.
When to Call the Doctor
Call the Hip & Knee Institute if you experience any of the following:
- Fever greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit
- A sudden increase in pain
- Excessive drainage from your incision
- Unusual redness, warmth, or swelling around the incision
- Calf pain and marked swelling in the leg
- Chest pain or shortness of breath
Precautions for Patients Who Have Undergone a Posterior Hip Replacement
- Do not bend over too far when standing — no more than a right angle
- Do not raise your legs or thighs more than 90 degrees.
- Do not raise your hip more than 90 degrees, even when sitting or lying down.
- Do not roll your leg inward, especially when turning on your side or turning in bed
Antibiotics and Dental Work after Joint Replacement Surgery
- Amoxicillin (2 grams) should be taken 1 hour before any dental work
- If you are allergic to penicillin, an alternative antibiotic will be prescribed
- Avoid any dental cleaning and non-urgent dental work for 6 weeks after surgery
It is very important that patients attend all of their follow-up appointments
with their orthopaedic surgeon after surgery. Appointments should be made
at the following times:
- 10 to 14 days after surgery
- 6 weeks after surgery
- 3 months after surgery
- 6 months after surgery
- 1 year after surgery
- Once a year thereafter
Questions? Call us at 818.708.9090