Dr. Nikhil Pandhi
At North Point ORthopaedics

Am I a Candidate for Outpatient Joint Replacement Surgery?

Jun 01, 2023
Am I a Candidate for Outpatient Joint Replacement Surgery?
Thanks to huge leaps in surgical and medical technology, outpatient joint replacement surgeries are now widely available to many patients — are you one of them? Keep reading to find out.

Joint replacement surgery is the most effective way to eradicate severe joint damage, but up until a couple of decades ago, it meant a stint in the hospital. Now, as surgical procedures have become more refined, you can have your joint replaced in the course of a single day. 

Sound too good to be true? 

Dr. Nikhil Pandhi and our team are here to walk you through some key factors we consider when recommending outpatient joint replacement and help you determine if you're a candidate for this convenient and efficient surgical option. 

What is outpatient joint replacement?

Many surgeons, like Dr. Pandhi, now opt to perform most total hip, total knee, and/or total shoulder replacements as outpatient, same-day procedures. In fact, it's projected that by 2026, approximately 51% of joint replacements will be conducted on an outpatient basis.

But what exactly is outpatient total joint replacement? Until recently, you could only have joint replacement surgery in an inpatient setting where you’d be admitted to a hospital and kept there during your recovery — sometimes, that meant a hospital stay of up to three months. 

Within the last 10 years, the length of recovery in the hospital decreased to two to three days, and now, patients either spend a single night in the hospital or they undergo an outpatient procedure, which means they are discharged on the same day as their surgery. 

In addition to refined surgical techniques, a number of medical advancements have contributed to this shift, including more effective anesthetics and regional pain control, which require less general anesthesia and facilitate a faster and more natural recovery post-surgery. More focused physical therapy and occupational therapy have also resulted in quicker discharges from the hospital, faster recoveries, and fewer complications.

Dr. Pandhi performs outpatients joint replacement in ambulatory surgery centers. Ambulatory surgery centers are specifically designed for outpatient surgery, providing controlled patient care and surgical protocols under the direct oversight of the surgeon. Ambulatory surgery centers are often located within hospitals or operate independently as standalone facilities. 

Who's a candidate?

Outpatient joint replacement has a high success rate that’s largely the result of careful patient selection. We take our recommendations seriously and consider your entire health history before deciding if this type of surgery is right for you. Here are a few things that determine if you're a candidate.

Your overall health

We generally recommend outpatient joint replacement surgery for individuals who are in good health and don't have any significant medical conditions that could increase the risks associated with surgery. If you have a chronic illness or any other health concerns, discuss them with us so we can determine if you’re a candidate.

Joint condition

We recommend outpatient replacement surgery if you have certain joint conditions, such as severe, advanced osteoarthritis, or joint degeneration. If conservative treatments like medication, physical therapy, or injections haven't worked, and your joint pain significantly affects your daily activities, outpatient surgery may be a viable solution.

If your joint condition is still in its earliest stages and we haven't exhausted our nonsurgical options, we may hold off on surgery. 

Commitment to recovery

Once your surgery is over, the next steps are largely in your hands. The amount of time you spend in recovery and the quality of your results depend on your commitment to following post-operative care instructions. 

Outpatient surgery often involves a faster recovery compared to traditional inpatient procedures, but it still requires active participation on your part. If you're willing to diligently follow Dr. Pandhi’s guidelines for physical therapy, pain management, and lifestyle modifications, outpatient joint replacement surgery could be a great fit for you.

Support system

Having a reliable support system in place during your recovery period is crucial. Outpatient joint replacement surgery allows you to return home on the same day as the procedure, so having family members or friends who can assist you with transportation, household chores, and even the emotional side of recovery is essential. Consider your support network before talking to us about outpatient surgery.

Personal preferences

Traditional surgery is a huge time and financial commitment, not to mention the physical toll it can take. For that reason, we also consider your personal preferences and desires to avoid costly and lengthy surgical procedures. 

Ready to find out if outpatient joint replacement surgery is right for you? Take your first steps toward a pain-free and more mobile future, and request an appointment online or over the phone today. We proudly serve patients in the Munster, Indiana, area.