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Preparing for Surgery and Procedure

Understanding the process and your role in it will help you recover more quickly and have fewer problems.

Preparing for Surgery and Procedure

Understanding the process and your role in it will help you recover more quickly and have fewer problems.

Total Joint Replacement

What to expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor will order the following:

  • Blood Tests
  • Chest X-Ray
  • EKG
  • Physical Exam
  • Medical Clearance

In the time leading up to your procedure:

  • Arrange for a ride to and from the hospital and medical appointments
  • Arrange for help at home after returning from the hospital
  • If you are overweight, lose some weight to decrease the amount of stress on your new joint
  • Make home modifications to help make recovery easier:
    • Consider creating a temporary living space on one floor, since climbing up and down stairs will be difficult at first
    • Purchase a stable, firm-backed arm chair and a footstool
    • Remove throw rugs and extension cords
    • Review your regular medications with the surgeon and follow instructions if asked to discontinue some drugs


General, Spinal

Description of the procedure

The surgeon makes an incision and removes damaged cartilage and bone. The remaining bone is prepared to receive the new plastic and metal joint, which is placed in proper position and cemented within the bone for knees and press fit into the bone for the hips. The incision is closed with stitches or staples.

Will it hurt?

Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. You may experience pain during recovery but you will receive pain medications to relieve discomfort.

Possible Complications:

  • Anesthesia-related problems
  • Blood clots in a leg or pelvic vein that may travel to the lungs
  • Excessive swelling or bleeding
  • Infection
  • Injury to nearby nerves or blood vessels
  • Reaction to the metal implant of the hip or the knee

Postoperative Care:

  • A physical therapist will help you perform specific knee or hip exercises, usually starting the day of surgery. You'll be taught safe and painless ways to stand, sit, lie, walk, and otherwise move the knee or hip and support your weight.
  • Do not take over-the-counter remedies without your surgeon's approval
  • Keep the incision area clean and dry, and place a dressing over the incision to protect it from irritation.
  • Move your foot and ankle to increase blood flow back to your heart.
  • Stitches or staples will be removed in a couple weeks
  • You may be sent home with blood-thinning medications which may include one of the following:
    • Low-molecular-weight heparin
    • Aspirin


Within 2-4 weeks, you should be able to resume normal light activities and driving. By following the recommended activity and rehabilitation program you can speed your recovery and protect future joint function.

Maintain a healthy weight, and refrain from jogging and other high-impact sports, which can increase wear on the joint, cause it to loosen, and increase pain.

Call Your Doctor if Any of the Following Occurs:

  • Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
  • Numbness or tingling in your leg, foot, or toes
  • Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs, or sudden shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Pain, burning, urgency, frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urine
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discherge from the incision site
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Your leg, foot, or toes appear chalky white, blue, or black