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Joint Replacements: Pre-Op and Post-Op


About a week prior to the operation you need to stop taking your arthritis medication, because all of the arthritis medicines increase bleeding at the time of surgery. Cortisone drugs such as Predisone are exceptions. You must notify us if you take blood thinners such as Coumadin or Plavix or even Aspirin. They should be stopped according to the prescribing physician's advice. On the day of your operation you need to be sure that you do not eat or drink. If you take heart medications or blood pressure pills they can be taken in the morning with a sip of water. You need to arrive at the hospital at least two hours before the time scheduled for surgery.


After the operation you will be given antibiotics to prevent infection and blood thinners to prevent blood clots. In the case of the total hip replacement, a pillow will be placed between your knees to help you avoid awkward positions which might allow the hip to come out of joint. In the case of the knee replacement your knee will be placed on a machine which begins gently bending the knee to help with mobility, and you will probably be asked to sleep in a leg brace to help keep your muscles stretched so that the leg will straighten properly. A physical therapist will work with you in the hospital and when you first go home teaching you to walk with a walker or crutches and later with a cane. After you are discharged from the hospital you will come into the office for follow up visit.

After you have had a joint replacement there is always a risk that the joint can become infected if infection enters your bloodstream. For that reason any time you get an infection anywhere it is important that you see a physician rapidly and begin taking proper antibiotics. If you have dental procedures done or any other significant surgical procedures you need to take antibiotics in preparation for those procedures. Your doctor or dentist can order those antibiotics or you can call our office and we will be glad to phone them in. Taking antibiotics before invasive procedures is recommended for two years after total joint replacement.

If you plan to go on airplane trips after you hip or knee replacement there is a good chance that your implant will set off metal detectors at the airport. We will be glad to furnish you with a card that explains you have the implant so the airport attendants will be aware of that. Because of potential long-term problems such as loosening of the prosthesis it is recommended that you return to see the orthopedist once a year for an x-ray of the implanted joint.

This is a great deal of information and I am sure that it will raise some questions. Hip and knee replacement have been recognized as excellent operations for a number of years and the hip replacement even won the Nobel Prize for the man who invented it. This material is not written to scare you or discourage you but simply to give you a better understanding of the procedures. We will be glad to answer any questions you have after reading this handout.

If you have questions regarding your surgery call Alecia or Bernice at 901-682-9161.

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