Joint Replacement FAQs
What is total joint replacement?
When a joint has worn to the point it no longer does its job, an artificial joint, or prosthesis, made of metal, ceramics and plastics can take its place. Total joint replacement surgery recreates the normal function of the joint – relieving discomfort and significantly increasing activity and mobility.
Why do hips and knees need replacement?
- The hip joint is a "ball and socket" in which the upper end of the thighbone rotates inside a rounded area of the pelvis. The knee is a "hinge" that joins the shin to the thigh. Both joints are lined with cartilage, a layer of smooth, tough tissue that cushions the bones where they touch each other. With age and stress, the cartilage wears away and the bones rub against each other, causing friction, swelling, stiffness, pain and sometimes deformity.
- When this happens, hip or knee replacement may relieve pain and restore mobility and quality of life.
Is joint replacement surgery safe?
Joint replacement is a safe and common procedure. Annually, nearly 150,000 people have hips and nearly 250,000 have knees replaced with positive results. Any surgical procedure involves risk. Hospital staff will review these with you and explain how your post-surgical program can reduce risk and aid in more rapid recovery.
What kinds of tests will I need before surgery?
- All patients are required to have routine blood work and urinalysis at least 14 days before surgery. You must also have a physical examination within 30 days of the surgical date.
- Patients over 50, and those with cardiac or respiratory history, must also have an EKG and chest x-ray within days of surgery. Most pre-admission testing can be performed either by your personal physician or at the hospital where the procedure will be performed.
Will I need to donate blood before surgery?
Some surgeries require you to donate blood if possible. This can be done any time within 35 days of surgery. If you can’t donate your own blood, a designated donor may donate blood on your behalf. You may also receive blood from the hospital Blood Bank if necessary. The Blood Bank follows universal guidelines in screening blood and blood products to ensure safety.
Are there any medications I need to take before surgery?
You should take an iron supplement, particularly if you will be donating your own blood.
Are there any medications I need to stop taking before surgery?
You can take most medications up until the day of surgery. Don’t take anti-inflammatory medications containing aspirin, which can act as blood thinners, within two weeks of surgery unless instructed otherwise by your physician.
What should I bring to the hospital?
- Bring all of your personal toiletries and shaving gear, comfortable, loose fitting clothing, slip-on non-skid shoes or slippers with closed backs, a list of current medications including dosages and any paperwork the hospital has requested.
- If you have a walker, cane or crutches, have someone bring them at discharge so the physical therapist can check them for size and stability.
- Do not bring radios, televisions or large amounts of cash.
When should I arrive at the hospital for surgery?
- You should arrive two hours before surgery time to go through admissions, change into hospital clothing, meet the anesthesiologist and nursing personnel and address any questions about the procedure.
- Do not eat or drink after midnight on the day of your surgery. You may be allowed to take pre-approved medication with the least amount of water necessary. Report any medication taken, along with dosage, to your admitting nurse.