New Advances Could Eventually Make Joint Replacement Outpatient Surgery

Recovery times, hospital stays have shortened significantly

With a new year comes a time to reflect on the medical community’s progress in countless areas. In the world of orthopedics, increasingly common joint replacement surgeries have simplified considerably over the past quarter century.

There was a time, in the early 1990s or so, that joint replacement surgeries were considered by many patients to be risky procedures with prolonged recovery times. But as many hospitals enacted new procedures and aggressive rehabilitation programs, recovery times decreased through the earliest years of the 21st century, while quality of life after joint replacement increased accordingly.

A knee replacement, for example, once required several days in the hospital. While it might be exaggeration to call it a common practice, it’s no longer unheard of for a patient to leave the hospital on the same day as surgery. A big part of this is patient education—caregivers are offering overall, comprehensive pictures of the process months in advance, allowing patients to condition themselves physically and mentally for the procedure.

Likewise, family members are prepared to perform their own duties as guardians or supervisors over the patient until they regain full independence. This can be something as simple as being prepared to drive the patient home from the hospital on the day of the procedure, if possible.

In fact, some professionals feel more so than any physical considerations, the biggest factor in how soon a patient returns home after joint replacement surgery is their preparation for the challenges they will face after the surgery.

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