Is outpatient hip surgery right for me?

Determining if outpatient hip surgery is right for you is a decision that should be made with a medical professional after taking a number of factors into consideration. If you are an 18 to 70 year old in good health with a team of family and friends to support you, there is a good chance outpatient hip surgery may be right for you.

What is outpatient hip surgery?

Outpatient hip replacement surgery can also be called “same-day hip replacement”, “ambulatory hip replacement”, or “rapid-recovery replacement”. Outpatient hip replacement surgery is the surgical replacement of the hip joint followed by the patient returning to their own home the same day of the procedure.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Like with most medical decisions, there are both pros and cons to deciding to have hip replacement performed as an outpatient procedure.

 

Some advantages of same-day hip replacement may include –

  • Lessened risk of infection due to decreased time in the hospital
  • Lower cost (depending on your insurance and provider)
  • Increased comfort at home in your own bed with familiar foods

Alternatively, there are also possible disadvantages to taking an outpatient route with hip replacement surgery, such as –

  • Reliance on family and/or friends when arriving home post-op
  • Limited mobility for the first few days post replacement
  • Pain and nausea may need to be managed with pain medications at home
  • Complications can arise even in the best candidates and a solid contact plan must be in place in case any signs appear

New York Times featured this article on Outpatient Joint Repair.

Specific Considerations

If the advantages seem enticing to you, you will need to talk to your hip replacement surgeon about if you qualify for an outpatient surgical plan. Some specifics your doctor may take into consideration are as follows:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Tobacco use
  • Any special surgical circumstances for your hip replacement
  • Availability of an at-home support team
  • If your home layout is conducive to recovery
  • Surgical anxiety
  • Attitude towards recovery

 

Your surgeon will need to see a commitment to safely monitoring your recovery to recommend outpatient surgery. Extensive post-op instructions and an at-home post-op plan will be discussed before surgery, and you must be highly motivated to follow each closely.

The Mayo Clinic publishes a great guide on hip replacement surgery that is worth a read if you are considering surgery.

Pre-Surgery

If you are qualified for and chose to go forward with rapid-recovery hip replacement, you should also be willing to do some preparation to make the transition home as smooth as possible.

Home prep such as clearing walkways of rugs, wires, and other obstructions, setting up a comfortable recovery area, and placing non-skid mats in showers and tubs is important. You may want to consider meal prepping ahead of time and arranging transportation to follow-up appointments before you return home from surgery.

Curious how to choose the right surgeon for your hip replacement?

Post-Surgery

After an outpatient hip replacement, you will need to closely follow the instructions from your doctors, nurses, and physical therapists to ensure a healthy recovery. Your doctors will provide you with instructions on medication, physical therapy plans, and a list of precautions to avoid (such as bending your hip beyond 90 degrees).

You should also be aware of and fully understand complications that may arise. A contact plan should also be in place for quickly reaching your doctor or the hospital at the first sign of issues.

Overall, you will need to work with your doctor to determine if outpatient treatment is right for you and your hip replacement. However, if you are in good health, have support, and are motivated to put in the at-home effort, there is a good change that same-day hip replacement may be the right choice for you.

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