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Knee

What to ask your doctor before knee replacement surgery

Definition
You are going to have knee replacement surgery to replace all or part of your knee joint with an artificial device (a prosthesis).

Below are some questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you prepare for your knee replacement.

Questions
Is knee replacement the best treatment for me right now? What other treatments should I think about?

  • How well does this surgery work for someone my age and with any of the medical problems I may have?
  • Will I be able to walk without pain? How far?
  • Will I be able to do other activities, such as golf, swimming, tennis, or hiking? When can I do them?

Is there anything that I can do before the surgery so it will be more successful for me?

  • Are there exercises I should do to make my muscles stronger?
  • Can I learn to use crutches or a walker before I have the surgery?
  • Do I need to lose weight before surgery?
  • Where can I get help quitting cigarettes or not drinking alcohol, if I need to?

How can I get my home ready before I even go to the hospital?

  • How much help will I need when I come home? Will I be able to get out of bed?
  • How can I make my home safer for me?
  • How can I make my home so it is easier to get around and do things?
  • How can I make it easier for myself in the bathroom and shower?
  • What type of supplies will I need when I get home?
  • Do I need to rearrange my home?
  • What should I do if there are steps that go to my bedroom or bathroom?
  • Do I need a hospital bed?
  • Do I need to go to a rehabilitation facility?

What are the risks or complications of the surgery?

  • What can I do before surgery to make the risks lower?
  • For which of my medical problems (diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure) do I need to see my regular provider?

Will I need a blood transfusion during or after the surgery? Isn’t there a way of saving my own blood before the surgery so it can be used during the surgery?

What will the surgery and my stay in the hospital be like?

  • How long will the surgery last?
  • What type of anesthesia will be used? Are there choices to consider?
  • Will I be in a lot of pain after surgery? What will be done to relieve the pain?
  • How soon will I be getting up and moving around?
  • How do I get to the bathroom after surgery? Would I have a catheter in my bladder?
  • Will I have physical therapy in the hospital?
  • What other types of treatment or therapy will I have at the hospital?
  • How long do I need to be in the hospital?

Will I be able to walk when I leave the hospital?

  • Will I be able to go home after being in the hospital?
  • Where will I go if I need to recover more before going home?

Do I need to stop taking any medicines before my surgery?

  • Aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or other arthritis drugs?
  • Vitamins, minerals, herbs, and supplements?
  • Blood thinners such as warfarin, clopidogrel, or others?
  • Other prescription drugs that my other doctors may have given me?

What should I do the night before my surgery?

  • When do I need to stop eating or drinking?
  • What medicines should I take the day of surgery?
  • When do I need to be at the hospital?
  • What should I bring with me to the hospital?
  • Do I need to shower with any particular soap?

References
Mihalko WM. Arthroplasty of the knee. In: Azar FM, Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017.

Harkness JW, Crockarell JR. Arthroplasty of the hip. In: Azar FM, Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017.

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Scott Ashley, MD

ORTHOPAEDIC SURGEON

Scott Ashley, MD, is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon. He specializes in sports medicine surgery, hip preservation surgery (including hip arthroscopy for treatment of hip impingement and labral tears, treatment of hip dysplasia, and other joint preserving surgeries for adolescents and adults), as well as knee and hip replacements.

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