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Outpatient Joint Replacement Surgeries Becoming Increasingly Popular

Substantial improvements in medical technology have led to minimally invasive surgical techniques for hip and knee replacement surgery.
Substantial improvements in medical technology have led to minimally invasive surgical techniques for hip and knee replacement surgery. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Traditionally, hip and knee joint replacement surgeries were thought to be big ordeals requiring extensive hospital stays and a lengthy recovery.

It’s time to rethink that train of thought.

Substantial improvements in medical technology have led to minimally invasive surgical techniques for hip and knee replacement surgery. These procedures now have such positive outcomes that many orthopedic surgeons, including Dr. Jason Hochfelder of Phelps Hospital, Northwell Health, are offering outpatient surgery that allows patients to go home the day-of surgery, as opposed to spending unneeded time in a hospital setting.

“You can recover in the comfort of your own home and bed,” Dr. Hochfelder said. “No overnight stay is needed, and studies show no increased risk. Plus, you sleep better in your own home versus the hospital, which leads to greater patient satisfaction, less pain, and a faster recovery.”

Due to less invasive techniques, joint replacement procedures are considerably less painful, and patients recover faster than ever before. Additionally, due to Phelps’ relationship with Northwell Health, doctors are able to monitor patients remotely following surgery. Most of the time, at-home physical therapy even starts the day following surgery.

The concept of recovering from what seems like a major joint replacement entirely at home could seem daunting to many. Many patients have some simple, but understandable questions: Is this safe? What are the risks? How is the recovery different for this procedure?

Studies have shown that there is no increased risk of complications for patients who go home on the same day as the procedure – it’s a totally safe way of recovery. Actually, some studies have shown that patients will actually recover faster if they go home on the day of the surgery.

“People used to think that they had to stay overnight,” Dr. Hochfelder said. “But hip and knee replacements are so common now that we have so much data and information that shows there’s no increased risk of the patients going home. Whether patients stay overnight or whether they go home, the risks are low to begin with and they’re not increased by going home. The way we do that is by identifying which patients are appropriate candidates to go home.”

Of course, like Dr. Hochfelder said, this outpatient procedure isn’t for everyone. In general, this is an option for more motivated patients and those that are active in their everyday lives. Those with other outstanding medical issues will need to be monitored within the facilities following a procedure.

“The last thing we want is to send anybody home and then have them back in the emergency room or the hospital the next day,” Dr. Hochfelder said. “And that’s something we haven’t seen because we are so strict with our criteria and we make sure patients are actually safe to go home before we send them home.”

It simply takes breaking a mental barrier for many to see the benefits of this type of surgery. There’s a traditional, old way of thinking where many think they must stay overnight in a hospital after surgery. There’s no real evidence that supports that line of thinking.

The COVID-19 pandemic has opened the eyes of many patients regarding the benefits of day-of, outpatient surgery. According to Dr. Hochfelder, the standard patient is more open than ever before to these new sorts of procedures.

“So many people are suffering from hip and knee pain, but some are reluctant to stay in hospital,” Dr. Hochfelder said. “So this option is becoming more and more appealing.”

By now, Dr. Hochfelder has been doing this procedure enough that he has many satisfied patients in the outpatient realm. One recent patient, who needed a knee replacement surgery when physical therapy for a prior injury wasn’t enough, was a bit hesitant to be in the hospital with the ongoing pandemic throughout the country.

The option to stay at home for most of the process put them at ease.

“With the COVID risks in the hospitals it felt so good to just head home after,” one patient said. “The pre-surgical staff was wonderful. Dr. Hochfelder even called me the night before to make sure were on same page and showed he really cared for me. After surgery, I was able to walk fine and was able to be discharged the same day.”

Even while offering outpatient surgery as an option, Dr. Hochfelder sees about an eight-to-one ratio of patients who will stay overnight versus those who will go home the day of surgery. However, the large difference has been slowly decreasing as more patients have begun to see the advantages of returning home more quickly.

If you or a loved one needs to undergo any sort of joint replacement therapy in the future, be sure to ask your surgeon about potential outpatient options. In particular, Dr. Hochfelder at Phelps Hospital, Northwell Health, would love to serve you. Besides, wouldn’t we all prefer to wake up in our own beds as opposed to the hospital?

For a consultation with Dr. Hochfelder, call (914) 298-2620 or visit us online at https://phelps.northwell.edu/orthopedics.

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