Over the last decade, the prevalence of outpatient joint replacements has grown tremendously. Though surgeons were slow to adopt the idea, the practice has become more and more accepted. For many patients, particular those will few medical comorbidities, outpatient joint replacement has many benefits. As long as the patient is highly motivated to go home following surgery and will follow the correct protocols, an outpatient joint replacement could certainly be the right choice.
It’s estimated that outpatient total joint replacement will increase 457% for knee replacements and 633% for hip replacements over the next decade, which makes now an ideal time to share the benefits of this growing trend. To that end, we’d like to take some time to outline the most important benefits, as we see them at GDO, for anyone interested in outpatient joint replacement surgery.
It’s extremely common to see outpatient joint replacement patients go home the same day as their surgery. In certain cases, they may stay overnight and go home the following day, which is still considered outpatient. This is the primary benefit to the patient for outpatient joint replacement, and the majority of the following benefits are predicated on this one. As we mentioned, for outpatient joint replacement surgery to be a responsible decision, the patient MUST be highly motivated to recover properly at home.
Some of the most common complications following a joint replacement surgery are the direct result of patients spending too much time in one position while recovering. Outpatient joint replacement surgery inherently encourages patients to become mobilized earlier and to a greater extent. As a result of this mobilization, these patients are at a much lower risk of developing blood clots and pneumonia.
Piggybacking on the previous benefit, by spending a minimal amount of time within the hospital, risk of hospital-acquired infections is drastically reduced. Even for outpatients who stay overnight before going home, the risk of infection is still highly reduced.
The prevalence of outpatient joint replacement has grown in tandem with recent advances in local anesthesia procedures, such as nerve blocks. These short-acting nerve blocks allow for rehabilitation to occur rapidly while mitigating traditional anesthesia side-effects like nausea and vomiting. The advances in anesthesia are certainly not limited to outpatient joint replacements, but when used in tandem they can result in shorter, more effective recoveries.
More pain management modalities are available for outpatient joint procedures than inpatient surgeries, which allows for an individual patient’s recovery plan to be suited to their unique needs, pain levels, and realities. This pain management freedom is simply not possible during inpatient recoveries.
According to Medicare data from 2014, outpatient joint replacement surgeries cost “roughly half as much” as inpatient procedures. When you consider that fact coupled with all the benefits mentioned above, it’s not shocking to see how many predominantly healthy individuals are choosing outpatient joint procedures over inpatient.
While this list is far from comprehensive, and there are always unique considerations for every patient, this should provide a high-level look at why more individuals are choosing an outpatient approach to joint replacement. If you have any questions about joint replacements in general, outpatient joint replacements, or are just looking for additional information regarding orthopedics, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Greater Dallas Orthopaedics team!