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Short-stay knee replacements

The average stay in hospital for a knee replacement is generally 5 days but now patients can stay in hospital for only 2 days or even just 8 hours. This type of surgery, known as outpatient or short-stay surgery is very convenient for the patient as they recover very quickly. However, it is far from being low-cost, as the medical staff must be much more rigorous.

Knee replacements

A knee replacement aims to replace the knee joint in patients with knee osteoarthritis when there is no cartilage remaining. To insert the implant the bone is sectioned. All three compartments of the knee (medial, lateral and patellar) or just one (medial or lateral) can be replaced and there are a variety of knee implants adapted to the morphology of each individual. There are no contraindications to outpatient knee replacements and age is immaterial. However, it is important that the patient is not suffering from any illnesses that may worsen and they must be accompanied.

Procedure for outpatient knee replacements

For outpatient knee replacements, patient care must be reviewed thoroughly from admission to follow-up at home. To ensure the efficacy of this new method, multidisciplinary teamwork is essential. However, the care does not end when the patient leaves the hospital. To ensure the continuity of care, the GP, physiotherapist, and nurse take over. Performed under local anesthetic, the patient will not suffer the adverse effects of painkillers, such as vomiting and nausea, and will be able to walk within 3 hours of the operation. With outpatient surgery, pain management is crucial; it must be aggressive during the first 48 hours to ensure the patient recovers as quickly as possible. The aim of outpatient knee replacements is to simplify and alleviate the process to decrease the patient’s feeling of being ill. It also helps reduce the physiological and physical impact of this operation that is considered major surgery.

An operation requires a lot of preparation

To ensure the outpatient care runs smoothly, the patient preparation phase is essential and includes the psychological and practical aspects (things to be monitored and checked before the operation, complementary tests to be conducted and organization at the patient’s home). Numerous consultations are essential to explain the operation to the patient and to answer any questions they may have. With outpatient surgery, care focuses more on the patient than the operation itself, as the patient plays a major role. They must be fully committed to the care and recovery process. The patient will have to get the implant moving, walk, bend the knee, and go up and down stairs… Nevertheless, it is also necessary for them to be able to do this. If the medical profession enables the patient to do this rapidly, it will be much easier than staying in a hospital bed for 48 hours. Furthermore, prolonged bed rest is a factor of unhappiness.

Dr Philippe PAILLARD, MD

About the Author:

Specialist in orthopedic surgery and sports surgery, Dr. Philippe Paillard operates on patients with hip, knee, shoulder, elbow or ankle disorders or injuries.

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