What to Expect at Sacred Heart’s Total Joint Center
At Sacred Heart’s Regional Joint Replacement Center, we understand that each patient has different needs when it comes to joint replacement. Your preoperative consultation will include a detailed discussion about your individual surgery and recovery, and our physicians, nurses and staff members are here to assist you throughout your treatment and follow-up.
Joint replacement is a major surgical procedure, and the decision to have the operation is an important one. After your consultation, you and your family should take time to evaluate whether the choice is right for you. When you are ready, call us and one of our nurses will schedule a date for your operation.
Prior to the operation, you will need to have a check-up from a primary care physician to get medical clearance for surgery. You may see either your own physician, or we can recommend a primary care doctor at Sacred Heart Medical Group. The check-up will generally include a physical examination, heart tests and X-rays, blood tests and urine analysis. We may also ask you to see a dentist to check for tooth or gum problems that might lead to infection of the replacement joint.
Prior to surgery, you may also wish to donate one or two units of blood, in case it is needed during the operation.
Arriving For Surgery
Depending on when you are admitted to the hospital, you may speak to and be examined by a member of the department of anesthesia. They will ask you a lot of questions, explain the anesthetic procedure, and in some cases, allow you to choose the type of anesthetic used.
After your meeting with your anesthesiologist, a member of our joint replacement team will take your temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure. The will also perform a physical examination and complete history and be available to answer any of your last-minute questions.
Your family may visit you the morning of surgery in your room if you like. They should keep the staff at the nurses' desk informed of their location during your surgery.
Before going to the operating room:
• You may brush your teeth and rinse your mouth, but do not swallow water.
• Elastic support hose or a compression pump will be applied to your opposite leg to help with circulation while you are lying on the operating room table.
• You will be asked to empty your bladder.
• To administer medications, an intravenous (I.V.) line will be started by the nurse or a member of the anesthesiology staff.
• Medications may be given about one hour before surgery to help you relax and dry your mouth and sinuses.
• You will be transferred to the holding area and from there to a stretcher prior to going to the operating room.
Our surgeons will perform your joint replacement procedure at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. Surgery lasts about 60 to 90 minutes. You will receive either general (total) anesthesia or a spinal (regional) block, to be decided after you consult with the anesthesiologist who will attend your surgery.
Because infection of the joint replacement site can cause serious complications, special precautions are taken to ensure sterility of the operating room. You will receive antibiotics to kill bacteria on your body, and surgeons will wear special suits to prevent the spread of bacteria from their bodies. An air current is also blown through the room to keep bacteria out of the surgical field.
For information on a specific type of joint replacement surgery, please see below.
Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee replacement surgery is done through an incision in the front of the knee, which is generally about eight inches long and later closed by sutures or staples. The operation lasts between 45 and 90 minutes. If both knees are replaced at the same time, the procedure takes longer.
On the day of surgery, an IV line will be inserted into your arm which will be used to administer antibiotics and other medication during your surgery. You will then be taken to the operating room and given anesthesia. After the anesthesia takes effect, your knee will be scrubbed and sterilized.
The surgery will begin with an incision over the knee that will expose the joint. When the bones are fully visible to the surgeon, special precision guides and instruments are used to remove the damaged surfaces and shape the ends of the bones to accept the implants.
The implants are then secured to the bones. It might also be necessary to adjust the ligaments that surround the knee in order to achieve the best possible knee function. When the surgeon is satisfied with the fit and function of the implants, the incision will be closed.
A special drain may be inserted into the wound to drain the fluids that naturally develop at the surgical site. A sterile bandage will then be applied, and you will be taken to the recovery room, where you will be closely monitored.
Hip Replacement Surgery
On the day of surgery, an intravenous tube will be inserted into your arm to administer necessary medications and fluids during surgery. You will then be taken to the operating room and given anesthesia.
The surgery usually takes two to four hours, although this is dependent upon the severity of the damage in your hip. In the operating room, a urinary catheter will be inserted and left in place for one or two days. Compression stockings and pneumatic sleeves will be put on both legs.
The procedure is performed through an incision over the side of the hip. The ball-end of the thighbone (femur) is cut and replaced with the new metal ball and stem component. It may be stabilized with or without cement. The damaged surface of the socket is smoothed in preparation for the insertion of the new socket. The ball and socket are then joined. When the surgeon is satisfied with the fit and function, the incision will be cleaned and covered with dressings. You will also find small drainage tubes coming out of the hip to drain fluid from the wound.
As your anesthesia wears off, you will slowly regain consciousness. A nurse will be with you and may encourage you to cough or breathe deeply to help clear your lungs. You will also be given pain medication. When you are fully awake, you will be taken to your hospital room in the Regional Joint Center to recover.
Most hip and knee replacement patients stay in the hospital after surgery for approximately three days. Your hospital stay is followed by discharge either to your home or a skilled nursing facility, depending on your individual needs.
Our doctors will visit you regularly during your stay to check your postoperative progress. Later, you will have follow-up visits with your surgeon at one, three and six months post-surgery, and every one to two years thereafter.