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What Does Outpatient Joint Replacement Mean?

Orthopedic surgeon and hip and knee replacement specialist Kevin Lindgren, M.D., discusses the trend toward outpatient joint replacement and what patients can expect.

When you think about joint replacement, you might imagine a long hospital stay, followed by more time in an inpatient rehabilitation facility. While that used to be the case, it may surprise you to learn that today, doctors perform most joint replacement procedures as outpatient surgery. What does it mean to have outpatient joint replacement surgery? We asked Kevin Lindgren, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and hip and knee replacement specialist at Summit, to tell us more.

What is outpatient joint replacement?

In an outpatient joint replacement, you generally go home the same day, although patents can stay in the hospital or surgery center for up to 23 hours, if needed. In many cases, joint replacements are performed in specialized surgery centers rather than hospitals. This often streamlines the postsurgical recovery process, so patients can go home more quickly.

Thanks to technical advancements in joint replacement, as well as how often these procedures are performed, “Hip or knee replacement just isn’t a surgery that has to be done in a hospital anymore,” Dr. Lindgren said. More than one million patients have joint replacement surgery each year in the United States.

Why are joint replacements considered outpatient surgery now?

The change to outpatient joint replacement surgery happened because of changes in Medicare regulations. Medicare now qualifies hip or knee replacement surgery as an outpatient surgery.

“This is something that Medicare insurance has decided. The reason they decided to define joint replacement as outpatient surgery is because orthopedic surgeons and joint replacement specialists have proved that we can do a hip or knee replacement very safely, and very well, in a nonhospital situation,” Dr. Lindgren said. “You can go home soon after surgery — and that has been shown to reduce surgical risks as well.”

Summit Care Suites

Although many people choose to go home after joint replacement surgery, there are other options available. Summit Orthopedics offers our Care Suites at our Vadnais Heights and Eagan locations. The Care Suites are specialty recovery suites that combine the comfort of a hotel with the safety of a healthcare facility.

Our Care Suites help patients transition between the surgery center and home. In addition to hotel-like amenities, they offer specialized nursing and therapy to get your recovery off to a great start.

“The Care Suites are a great option that Summit has available for patients who have received joint replacement surgery and aren’t comfortable heading straight home,” Dr. Lindgren said.

When to seek treatment for your arthritis

Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of a select few nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.

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