Are there any risks associated with joint replacement surgery?

A:Knee and Hip replacement are extremely safe procedures that close to a million people undergo each year in the United States. Like with any surgical procedure, there are some risks associated with joint replacement namely blood clotting, bleeding, infection respiratory problems and implant problem but the risk is minimal, especially under the guidance of a well-trained and experienced surgeon. Dr. Shah encourages all his patients to discuss their concerns freely before going ahead with the surgery.

Could someone be too young or too old to undergo a joint replacement surgery?

A:There is no age limit on joint replacement surgery; however, there are certain factors that may make it too dangerous to proceed with joint replacement surgery. These factors can include uncontrolled medical problems such as diabetes, severe heart or lung compromise, or the inability to stop blood thinners prior to surgery.

Will I ever need to get a joint replacement surgery for the second time?

A:Historically, the life expectancy of a joint replacement was 10-15 years; however, with the introduction of advance materials, we now expect that a joint replacement should not fail due to normal wear and tear. There are always unforeseen circumstances such as car accidents or infections that may require additional surgeries, but these are extremely uncommon.

Does Dr. Shah encourage seeking a second opinion from another surgeon?

A:Dr. Shah wants his patients to be fully comfortable prior to any surgery and thus is happy to have his patients obtain a second opinion and will provide a few doctors names to anyone who would like to pursue this.

How long will I be out of work?

A:This depends on a number of factors, most important of which is what you do for work. Dr. Shah does not limit his patients from going back to work and will work with you to make sure that you get back to work as soon as possible. However, in general, Dr. Shah expects that for joint replacement a minimum of 1-4 weeks of time off is reasonable.

How long until I can start driving after surgery?

A:This really depends on which leg you have done. If it is your left leg, then as soon as you are off of the pain medication you can start driving. If it is your right leg, then the typical time after surgery is between 2-4 weeks before you are strong enough to drive safely.

Does Dr. Shah use staples to close the skin?

A:In most cases, Dr. Shah closes the surgical wound with all absorbable stitches and a special skin glue that do not require removal. Also, the dressing over the wound is transparent and waterproof allowing patients to shower as soon as they are discharged from the hospital or surgery center.

How long will I be in the hospital?

A:For a hip replacement, approximately 70% of people stay one night, 25% stay 2 nights and 5% stay longer for various reasons. For a total knee replacement, 70% of people stay 2 nights, 20% stay one night and 5% stay longer. Partial knee replacement is generally done as an outpatient procedure unless your medical condition requires surgery in the hospital.

Am I too old for this surgery?

A:Age is generally not an issue if you are in reasonable health and have the desire to continue living a productive, active life. You may be asked to see your personal physician for his/her opinion about your general health and readiness for surgery.

When should I have this type of surgery?

A:During your consultation with Dr. Shah, you and he can discuss the various option for the treatment of your pain and together you can decide if this surgery is right for you. The decision will be based on your history, exam, X-rays, and response to non-surgical treatment.

How long will my new hip last?

A:Historically, the life expectancy of a joint replacement was 10-15 years; however, with the introduction of advance materials, we now expect that a joint replacement should not fail due to normal wear and tear. There are always unforeseen circumstances such as car accidents or infections that may require additional surgeries, but these are extremely uncommon.

Will I be required to take any tests before the surgery?

A:Every patient will be required to obtain a preoperative history and physical from their primary care physician that will include a blood test and EKG. Depending on your age, you may also require a chest x-ray. Women will need to obtain a urine test to rule out a urinary tract infection. If you have other serious health concerns, then preoperative consultation with a specialist may also be required.

Will I be required to stop or resume any medication for the surgery?

A:As a rule of thumb, you will need to stop any blood-thinners, anti-inflammatories and over-the-counter supplements that you may be on.

How long does the surgery take?

A:A typical hip replacement takes 1-1.5 hours with an additional one hour in the recovery room.

How is partial knee replacement different from total knee replacement?

A: The knee is comprised of the medial part, the lateral part, and the kneecap. In partial knee replacement, only the damaged part of the knee is replaced. While in a total knee replacement surgery, all three are replaced, in a partial knee replacement, only one or two of them are.

How long does a partial knee surgery take?

A: Typically, a partial knee surgery takes 1.5 hours plus another 45 minutes in the recovery room.

Will I have to walk with the use of an assistive device after surgery?

A: Yes most people use a walker, crutches or cane somewhere between 2 and 4 weeks after surgery.

How long will I have to wait before I can drive after the surgery?

A: This really depends on which leg you have done. If it is your left leg, then as soon as you are off of the pain medication you can start driving. If it is your right leg, then the typical time after surgery is between 2-4 weeks before you are strong enough to drive safely.

How long will I have to wait before I could resume physically straining activities?

A:It is recommended that you wait for at least 2 months before resuming working out, exercising, etc. However, this too varies across individuals.