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Understanding Joint Replacement Surgery

Learn more about knee and hip joint replacement surgery.

WHAT IS KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY?

Your knee is made up of three basic parts that move and work together to ensure smooth motion and function. When arthritis sets in and the cartilage (tissue that cushions the knee) wears away or is destroyed, the knee joint needs replacement.


Knee replacement, also called knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace damaged or diseased parts of your knee with a new artificial joint. The materials used in your artificial joint are strong and are created to last a long time inside your body. Your orthopedic surgeon will think about many factors, such as age, bone density, and the shape of your joints to decide the exact kind of knee replacement that is best for you.

Anatomy of the knee
(click to view larger image)

Knee Anatomy

Anatomy of the hip
(click to view larger image)

Hip anatomy

WHAT IS HIP REPLACEMENT SURGERY?

Your hip is made of two basic parts that move and work together to ensure smooth motion and function. When arthritis sets in and the cartilage that cushions the hip wears away or is destroyed, the hip joint needs replacement. Total hip replacement surgery involves replacing the hip joint with an artificial joint made of strong materials that will keep you moving for many years. When choosing the kind of hip that’s best for you, your orthopedic surgeon will consider many factors, such as age, bone density, and the shape of your joints.


WHAT ARE TYPICAL RESULTS OF JOINT REPLACEMENT?

You can expect a successful result from your knee and hip replacement surgery. There will be postoperative pain, but patients generally have less pain and more mobility as time goes on. A majority of patients can return to most of the activities they enjoyed before surgery.


Your new artificial joint will last 10 years at a minimum but may last up to 20 or more years. With newer implant technology, we hope to see implants last on the higher end of the range, which accounts for various demands placed on the implants based on your age, weight, and activity level. Your artificial joint will be much more likely to last longer if you are not overweight and if you avoid impact activities like running and jumping.


WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT BEFORE JOINT REPLACEMENT SURGERY?

The first step after deciding you’d like to have a joint replacement is to meet with an orthopedic surgery scheduler. You will cover the following:
•    You will be scheduled to attend our pre-operative education class and enrolled in the Joint Replacement Center.
•    You will be sent for pre-operative screening with the pre-anesthesia screening nurses.
•    You will be scheduled for a pre-operative physical exam.
•    You will be given a safe surgery questionnaire. This will need to be completed and taken to your pre-operative physical exam.
•    The surgery scheduler will remind you to get any forms needed by employers or insurance companies to your orthopedic surgeon’s nurse as soon as possible. It can take several weeks to complete these.


WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AFTER JOINT REPLACEMENT SURGERY?

After surgery, you’ll move to an area called the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), which is often called the recovery room. You’re watched carefully in the PACU as you begin the recovery from your anesthesia and surgery.


You can expect to get antibiotics for about a day after surgery as well as medications for pain. Sometimes, patients will feel nauseous or constipated. You may receive medicines to help with these problems. It’s important to talk with your orthopedic team or nurse if you don’t feel well. They’ll either explain your current medications or give you something different if your current ones aren’t working for you.


After surgery, you’ll notice a bandage and possibly a tube that drains fluid away from your joint. You may also have a small tube placed into your bladder, called a catheter, so you don’t have to get out of bed to urinate. You can also expect to have sequential compression devices (SCD) on your feet. These pumps will squeeze the feet at regular intervals to circulate blood and help prevent clotting. If you do not feel the compression, be sure to let your nurse know.


At the OMC Joint Replacement Center, we have a well-thought-out plan aimed to get you up and moving early in recovery. Our hope is to help you feel better and get you back in the game as soon as possible. Your rapid recovery plan is carefully mapped out for your expected hospital stay.


Most patients who have joint replacement surgery are ready to sit at the edge of the bed, stand, and even start walking with help the evening of surgery. You’ll use a walker and should be able to put weight on the joint if you can tolerate it.


With the proper care, your joint replacement will get you back in the game and enable you to return to many of the activities you enjoy.

Contact Us

OMC's orthopedic surgery department and joint replacement center can be reached Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (except on holidays), at:

Appointment tel: 507.292.7187

Joint Replacement Navigator: 507.529.6735 

Mailing address:

Olmsted Medical Center
Attn: Orthopedic Surgery/Joint Replacement Center
1650 Fourth Street SE 
Rochester, MN 55904

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