Preparing for Surgery
Once you have scheduled a hip or knee replacement surgery, you should make preparations to ensure that your surgery and recovery goes as smoothly as possible. Here is a checklist to help you prepare.
Learn About Your Procedure
If your hospital offers a class on joint replacements, take advantage of this. Also, there are many resources on the Internet that provide invaluable information about hip and knee replacement surgery. Some resources are listed at the bottom of this page.
Get Into Shape
You will want to be in as good a shape as you can be so that you speed up your recovery.
• If you smoke, either stop smoking or cut way down. Smoking affects blood circulation, delays healing and slows recovery.
• If you're overweight, try to lose a few pounds.
• Ask your surgeon about exercises you can do before surgery. Ask about the exercises you will be prescribed after surgery. If you become familiar with then now, you will be better able to do them following surgery.
• Building up strength is important too. A strong upper body will make it much easier to get around on crutches or a walker.
• If you drink alcoholic beverages, do not consume any alcohol for several days before your surgery.
• If you use any other types of controlled substances, tell your doctor. Narcotics and other drugs can cause complications and impact your surgery.
Two months before your surgery:
• Visit your primary care physician to get medical clearance for this surgery.
• If there is a possibility that you might go to a rehabilitation facility after your surgery, it might be wise to visit possible sites in advance. Make sure that the facility will take your health insurance.
Four-two weeks before your surgery:
• Review and adhere to all directions from your surgeon’s office regarding the filling out of forms, getting medical clearance, changes to your prescription drugs, etc.
• Your surgeon will let you know the specific medications to stop taking in advance of your surgery.
• Go for routine pre-surgical tests such as a chest X-ray, blood work and others
Significant dental conditions and problems should be treated prior to surgery. Although uncommon, an infection can occur as a result of these dental procedures if bacteria enter your bloodstream. If necessary, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist before your joint replacement surgery to treat any problems you may have.
Once your surgery has been scheduled, call your insurance company to inform your health plan of your upcoming procedure. You'll need to provide the date of your surgery, procedure type and the phone number for our office. You should discuss the type of post-surgery services your insurance plan covers, such as rehabilitation hospital care and home physical therapy, as well as equipment, such as a commode and walker.
Be sure to think about your return home in advance of your surgery because you will need help caring for yourself for twenty-four hours a day for at least the first week at home. Figure out ahead of time who will assist you and talk with them about your concerns. If no one is available to care for you, a discharge-planning nurse can help make arrangements for skilled nursing or caregivers to help you at home.
• Have a friend or family member pick you up from the hospital on the day of your discharge.
• You will need help 24-hours a day for at least the first week. Organize friends, family or neighbors to check in on you after that time for additional help if needed.
• In addition, make sure you have rides planned to all follow-up visits, which will be at three, six and 12 weeks after surgery.
• If you have crutches or a walker, bring them to the hospital. If you don't already have walking aids and need them, the hospital staff will help you to either rent or purchase these and other recommended devices, such as a raised toilet seat, bedside commode, tub chair and other aids.
• A hospital bed, if needed, can be rented on a weekly basis. The hospital staff can help you arrange this.
In addition, arranging meals that can be stored and frozen and stocking up on prepared foods will eliminate extra work for your caregiver. It also is highly recommended that you organize your home with safety features to prevent accidents. These include making pathways in crowded areas, eliminating all throw rugs, securing extension cords and telephone cords strung across the floor, securing handrails in your bathtub and stairways, and placing all needed items at a level so that you can easily reach them. You also should be sure that your house is equipped with the following:
• Raised toilet seat
• Stable shower bench or chair for bathing
• Long-handled sponge or shower hose
• Reaching device that will allow you to grab objects
Pack a small suitcase for your hospital stay that includes: a list of all medications you are taking, personal hygiene items, comfortable and loose clothing, a knee-length robe and slip-on shoes. Leave all valuables at home, including jewelry, wallet and watches. It is not necessary to bring your actual medications, however do bring a list of your medications and their dosages. The hospital will provide you with your medications.
To read more about how to prepare for joint replacement surgery, please consult one of the Internet-based resources below.